Wednesday, April 30, 2008


206.3 down 4.2
I think I mentioned earlier that we insist that each of our kids do some activity that will keep them physically active. Brandon is the only one who didn't do an organized sport in High School but he would go and run for five miles just to unwind. We were never sure what Sarah would end up doing. She is an active girl and has always done something, she did soccer when she was little and then basketball when she got older but while she really enjoyed them, they didn't seem like sports that she was going to excel in. One day Lisa decided that Sarah looked like a runner. We'd had no experience with cross country but Lisa signed her up for a cross country camp and here we are. Do you know what they do in cross country? It is crazy, they just head out for runs some times as much as seven miles. I can't even imagine running seven miles but poor Sarah, who had never really run before, was doing it the first week she started. Cross country is a fall sport so now in the spring Sarah is doing track & field. Her sports are the mile and 300 m hurdles but she has also done the two mile, 800 meters and 4 x 4 relay. It is a beautiful thing to watch her go over those hurdles. Today was her last meet and unfortunately it was against Rancho Bernardo and they are pretty good. She didn't win the race in the video but she did well. The race where I took the photograph she did win. Don't you like those pretty blue cleats? I'm going to miss watching her.

Monday, April 28, 2008


210.5 up 3.5
What a great long weekend. As you could tell from Fridays post, Lisa and I went to Brandon and Serene's graduation at BYU. Brandon will be working for Mark and Dixie this summer so they are flying directly to Alaska meaning we had to move all their stuff (including their car) back to California and store it for the summer. It was quite a feat. Have you ever tried to put six gallons of dirt into a five gallon bucket? That is what I did. I'm kicking myself that I never took a picture of our van. To make it even more exciting, Alycia had her entire life's possessions in Utah with her so had we to bring half of it back with us as well so that her and Ben would have a chance of getting all of their stuff into the car when they come home later this week. Every cubic inch of the van was filled including the passenger seat. I had a huge car top carrier on the van and it was filled. The back of the van rode no more than three inches off the road and I was really worried about the springs. Brandon's car didn't fair much better, the trunk was full to capacity, the back seat was full to capacity and the passengers seat was filled as well. In fact, Lisa got pulled over by a cop on the way home (she had a headlight out) and Lisa looks at the cop and points to the passenger seat and says, "Do I really have to get the registration out of there?" She pointed out that it wasn't her car and she was just moving a student home from school and he let her off with a warning. I think he could tell she was telling him the truth. As you can tell by my weight, I wasn't a good boy this week. I actually ate very responsibly but I REALLY like BYU chocolate milk. It is so good and I probably drank a gallon all by myself. To make it worse, I didn't run either. Other than that I was pretty good. So I guess I fell off the wagon but I'm back on and today I ran and that was tough since it was over 90°F. Lisa's Dad also showed up to surprise Brandon. That was pretty cool and he fell in love with Serene (this was his first time to meet her) and he especially fell in love with their baby. I suppose you all know my kids but just in case, in the picture from left to right is Brandon, Ben, Boyd Shaw and Alycia. So Wednesday we drove to Utah, Thursday was convocation, Friday Brandon walked at 8:00 and Serene walked at 5:00, Saturday we loaded up the van, drove to Ephraim and loaded up the car and the car top carrier and then drove to St George. Before we left Ephraim, Lisa and Alycia went to a movie while Ben and I went and killed clay pigeons with his shot gun. That was quite fun. Since we were both quite sleep deprived we slept in Sunday morning and then drove the rest of the way home. That isn't much fun driving two vehicles but we both had cell phones and we kept each other awake. Today was back to the grind.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Brandon and Serene Graduation

Today I would like to say how proud I am of my son Brandon and his wife Serene. They have gone though one very stressful year and overcome tremendous challenges to achieve their goal. Today they both graduated from Brigham Young University. Brandon is in a biochemistry major which is a very challenging major. On top of that he is holding down a part time. Brandon has been doing research work in the Chemistry department to help support his wife and child. Yes, I said child. Brandon married Serene Quinn December 30, 2006 and nine months later his wife Serene blessed me with a beautiful little grand daughter. That wasn't quite how they planned it but here she is and we couldn't be more thrilled. To make things even more challenging, as his wife was going into labor he was studying for his LSAT and writing midterms. He wrote his LSAT just days before Sydney was born. After the arrival of this beautiful little girl Serene and Brandon started taking her to class with them. I guess that worked out OK until Sydney got a little older and started talking during class. The professers at BYU are very understanding but they can't allow babies to disturb their lectures. Serene also graduated today along with Brandon but if you think the birth of the baby made midterms challenging for Brandon how do you think it was for Serene? Can you imagine, she was attending classes even while she was carrying her baby. She did take a light load during the fall semester when Sydney was born but still, she had a baby while she was attending classes. This semester however she took a heavier load and in spite of it all she graduated Cum Laude. If you're like me and didn't really know what Cum Laude means, it means you're one of the top 10% of the graduating class. I can't imagine attending school the same semester as you deliver a child. Today Brandon and Serene graduated from University and I couldn't be more proud. Brandon is going to be attending law school at Pepperdine in the fall. We will be glad to have them closer to home.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Exploding Batteries

Now you have enjoyed (or endured) the five part series of Fred's career. Just in case you thought you were done there is one more aspect of my work here at Kyocera that I should share with you since it was such a major part of my life. That is the history of the exploding batteries. Before I start though, I just want to tell you that this morning I weighed in at 207.o pounds. I think I'm back on track. As I'm sure you have noticed, battery technology has grown tremendously over the last ten years. Remember the old NiCd batteries? Then came NiMH which had twice the energy and then came the first Li-ion batteries that had twice the energy of the NiMH and then over the first few years after Li-ion came out their energy density more than doubled. Well that was the period when I joined the battery world. We put tremendous pressure on the battery companies to get more and more energy out of them. Try and imagine the energy from ten of the old NiCd batteries squeezed into a package half the size of one of them. That is the definition of a bomb. To get the size down many of the companies would cut corners and that is where the problem started. In order to use the highly reactive elements (like lithium) you can't use an aqueous electrolyte so you use a hydrocarbon. The problem is that hydrocarbons are fuels just like gasoline and Diesel so they burn quite nicely. Now imagine that you get a short circuit between your cathode and anode and you have a tremendous amount of current (as high as 50 amps) going through a very tiny conductor and you have temperature excursions over 1,000°C. White hot temperatures surrounded by a fuel is not a good combination especially when the cathode breaks down at those temperatures and gives off oxygen. Just about every major phone company and every major laptop company has now gone through a battery recall but Kyocera, unfortunately, had the honor of being the first. It was the worst year of my life. Kyocera took the approach that we would be very proactive, we volunteered for the recall (before the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) forced us to) and if we get any phone call from a customer that is very freaked out or threatening a law suit, the lawyer and I jump on a plane and fly out to their house to calm them down. You may remember CJ, that is him in the picture. It is such a creepy feeling to walk through someones house that has burned. Our approach has been very successful and because of this we have only had one law suit. I have seen it all, burned carpet, burned purses, burned bums, burned kitchen counters, burned cars, burned couches and burned houses. I supposed the most interesting was a woman who slept naked with her phone and yes, I had to check out the pictures of burned boobs. I have two words of advice for you, 1) don't sleep with your phone and 2) if your phone bursts into flames, throw it into the middle of your carpet. You can get a brand new carpet that way. I am now an expert on what can make a battery safe and believe me, it can't be done with the most popular chemistry. There are some new chemistries that aren't as powerful but they are much more stable. You will see them first in power tools and cars but I think most phone companies will eventually make the compromise and go to these chemistries as well. Once again, Kyocera is leading the way, we are doing it now and I'm sleeping better at nights.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Qualcomm Years

Today we experienced a bit of a set back. I swear all I ate yesterday was two bowls of cereal in the morning and two sloppy joe's for dinner in the evening. The root beer float I had was really tiny, honest it was. Anyway, I weighed in at 208.1. I gained a pound and a half. That's it, no more ice cream sundaes and no root beer floats, even tiny ones. Maybe that is why they call this a low carb diet. Now on to Fred Leavitt part V - The Qualcomm Years. Qualcomm is the inventor of CDMA which is a very ingenious way of building a cell phone. The problem is, they had this new fancy chip but no one made phones that could use it. They decided that they had to build the phone themselves. I was hired by the phone factory as a "Supplier Management Engineer". My job was to manage suppliers and so out of necessity I would have to travel to the suppliers factories. My first crisis was connectors. They had just had this major problem with bad connectors and so shortly after I hired on I was off to Cambridge, England to visit the Elco factory. It was a rather freaky experience since I was so green and I had not traveled that much at Global or Hi-Z. It got even more exciting when Elco thought I was coming the next week so there was no one to meet me at the airport and no hotel room. After I solved their connector problem they added keypads and then cables and then switches and after a while I covered all electromechanical components. They then needed someone on circuit boards and then they had a major problem with batteries and asked if I wanted to take on that headache. All of the sudden I was home again, my entire adult life I had been working with energy generation and here I was back to batteries which is energy once again. The only down side with batteries is that all of those factories are in Asia and I would much rather travel to Europe. The battery in the picture is my design and I have two patents on that battery pack. You would be surprised what they will give you a patent for. When CDMA caught on and other factories started making CDMA phones Qualcomm decided to get out of the phone business and focus on their chips. They sold the factory to Kyocera. To make it even more complicated, Kyocera recently bought Sanyo's cell phone devision so if you see a Sanyo cell phone we make it too. To keep this story short I have now moved from Supplier management to Engineering and I am the person responsible for the design of the batteries so I am still very involved with the suppliers. It is a good job. I now have a guy working for me so I don't travel as much but in my life time I have been to the following countries and states. Canada, USA, Mexico, Belgium, Holland, France, Italy, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Washington DC, Virginia, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Oklahoma, Georgia, Tennisee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, Alaska, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana. I'm sure I missed something somewhere but you get the idea. The ironic part is that I've never had the desire to travel and I've ended up at all those places and yet Lisa would love to travel and she's stuck at home. Hopefully, I can get her out to some of these places. The one thing that traveling has done for me and is I really appreciate the good old USA.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Today I didn't lose as much weight as I have in the past but that might have something to do with the fact that I had four pieces of pizza and an icecream sundae at 10:30 last night. Even so I still lost half a pound. This morning I weighed in at 206.5 pounds. Yesterday I pointed out how I'm not much into competitive sports. Well I'm also not much into the arts either. I was, however in the marching band as a kid. A really good band too. I've also appreciated the importance of encouraging kids to explore the arts as well. All of my kids are into music big time and they get so frustrated driving in the car with me because I just want to listen to talk radio and news radio. I do like some songs but it is quite random what I like and what I don't like. Kira actually figured out that I like songs that have a soft gentle melody along with a strong rhythm. One example of a song I like is "Dreams" by the Cranberries. Check out the link. All of our kids started piano lessons when they started school and each of them started an instrument in fifth grade. Kira started on a clarinet and switched to oboe later on. Brandon the violin and he still plays very well today, Ben the trumpet but he gave that up in high school for football, Alycia flute but she also didn't make it into highschool. Alex the alto saxophone and then switched to tenor sax. He also gave it up for football and then Sarah started on clarinet. I played saxophone, trombone and then baritone. It's a long story but I only got good on the baritone. So when it comes to the arts I've been exposed to most of it, band concerts (Kira), choir concerts (all of the kids), orchestra's (Brandon and Kira), ceramics (Alycia), drawings (Ben and Sarah). The one thing however that I haven't been much involved in however is dance. Sure, the girls did danced when they were tiny but I've never been to one on the high school level. That is until last night. Last night we went and watched MacKenzie Rizzo dance. MacKenzie is Alex's girlfriend. She is from Valley Center and she is a sweetheart. The dance concert isn't quite what I expected it to be although I'm not sure what I was expecting. The lighting and the dancing were very beautiful but the lighting was low and made it difficult to get good pictures (no flash allowed). Here are a couple of pictures for you to enjoy. She's a beautiful girl isn't she?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Alex's Volleyball and other Athletics

It's still coming off. This morning I weighed in at 207.0 pounds. That is more than four pounds since Wednesday, an average of more than a pound a day. The weekends are always the toughest though. Too many temptations. Wish me luck.

If you read my post a couple of days ago you may remember that the only "D" I have ever had in grade school was in phys ed. That should give you some idea of how inclined I am towards organized sports. Don't get me wrong, I love hiking and skiing and those kinds of things and I've always been very active but when it comes to competition it just isn't in my make-up. You can imagine what an adjustment it was for me then when so many of my kids have embraced sports. Kira was the first confusion for me, in high school she was on the girls volleyball team and the track team doing high jumping. She lettered in track. Brandon was more like me, he would go for a three or four mile run just for the fun of it but he figured football was quite barbaric. I think he may have changed his tune a bit on that one but he never did high school sports. Ben was the biggest adjustment for me though. Sports is his life. As a junior he lettered in football, basketball and volleyball. He would have done more sports if they had more seasons in the year. The very first football game I ever watched (that is including on TV) was Ben when he was a freshman in high school. I'm only now figuring out all the subtleties of the sport watching Alex. Alex's friend , Nate Turnwall, gave me a book called "Football for Dummies". It's actually good reading. Ben is even on a football scholarship in college right now. Alycia did field hockey and lacrosse and she lettered in lacrosse, Alex is taking after Ben, he plays football, basketball and volleyball and he has lettered in football and volleyball and if he wants to he will letter in basketball next year. Sarah is my biggest surprise. I never figured her for a competitive one but she is my only three sport daughter (I'm sure Kira would consider marching band a sport though). As a freshman Sarah is on the track team, girls basketball and cross country. They get that aggressive tendency from their mother.

So Alex had a Volleyball tournament this weekend. I love to watch him play. They won their pool last night and then this morning (at 8:30 groan) they had the playoffs. I attached a couple of his spikes (or kills or aces, I'm still trying to get the lingo down) so you could enjoy watching him along with me. Alex's number is #1.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Fred - The Hi-Z years

I am quite proud to announce that this morning I weighed in at 208.9. That would be nearly two pounds less than yesterday and two and a half pounds from Wednesday. You guys are really helping me here. Here we go for Fred Leavitt part IV - The Hi-Z years. It all started in Wales. I was at a thermoelectric conference in Cardiff (Wales) and I made an off the cuff remark to a guy from Hi-Z that he should come and work for us at Global. His response was that I should go and work for them. Well this was in the dead of winter and in the dead of winter in Canada, San Diego looks very attractive. One day during a blizzard I decided to call the guys at Hi-Z and ask if they were serious. To keep a long story short, I started work at Hi-Z, in July 1992. Hi-Z is a small company with about ten full time employees. They gave me shares in the company and I was the number three person in charge. Their technology was world class and working at Hi-Z was so much fun that I almost felt guilty getting paid for it. We worked on everything from wood burning stoves that make electricity to powering probes that land on Mars. The hand in the picture is mine and if you go to their website I was involved in just about every project you will see there although my name only appears on a few things since. I left Hi-Z nearly ten years ago. I have a patent on the module in the picture plus at least four other patents as well. I still consult for them. The only problem is that when we moved to San Diego we were a bit naive in the cost of living in San Diego. While my time at Hi-Z may have been the most fun part of my life it was certainly the poorest part of my life. That doesn't count my college years but then we were too dumb to know that we were poor. As the kids got closer to college age I went to the President and told him that when I came to Hi-Z I had counted on my shares being worth something and helping out with providing for my family. I pointed out that my kids were heading for college soon and I needed more money. I said I didn't need it right away but I needed to be heading in that direction over the next few years. He told me that I wasn't worth that much money. I then accepted an offer at Qualcomm making more than I had asked Hi-Z for. I can tell you that making a 65% increase in pay sure changes your lifestyle. Now all of the sudden I was worth what I had asked for. They offered to match my offer from Qualcomm and promote me to be president of the company. I pointed out that at this point in my life I can't afford to take that kind of a risk and offered to stay on as a consultant but I needed to accept the offer from Qualcomm. It was the right thing to do but not nearly as much fun. I owe a lot to Hi-Z and they are still very good friends. The problem is that they are all scientists and not business men. The company has tremendous technology and should be a multi-billion dollar company. I believe some day that will happen and when it does I hope to be involved.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fred - The Canadian Years

So Kira thinks I should eat more fiber. Actually, I have been eating fiber every morning for a while now. I remind myself of Dad. I remember him eating his bowl of bran every night before he went to bed. At the time I figured it was his excuse for an extra bowl of cereal but now I understand. So I'm happy to report that this morning I weighed in at 210.6 pounds for a reduction of almost a pound. I know it is only a pound but you have to start somewhere. Now for Fred Leavitt part III - The Canadian Years. As I approached graduation in 1983 it was right in the middle of the biggest recession I was ever aware of. There were no jobs anywhere. I figured I'd end up in the oil and gas fields as a welding expert but there were no jobs available anywhere. While in school I worked on a research project for one of my professors developing submerged arc welding processes. One day I was riding up the elevator at the U of A and one of my professors stepped in and when he saw me he said, "how would you like to live in Bassano?" I asked him what country Bassano was in? It turns out there was a small company in a small rural town in Alberta called Global Thermoelectric. They were a spin off from 3M company who used to make thermoelectric generators for the space industry (I'll bet you thought they only made tape). In fact the thermoelectric generators that the Apollo missions left on the moon were made by 3M and used the same technology that Global had. That is a thermoelectric generator sitting on the ground in the picture. The astronaut pulling the plutonium fuel rod out of its shield and he will insert it into the generator. 3M heated their thermoelectrics with Plutonium-238 but Global just burned propane. Since they ran off heat and had no moving parts these generators could run for years with no maintenance and so powered things like microwave repeaters and cathodic protection systems. Since Global brought their technology from 3M with them they had the recipes but they didn't have anyone who understood them. I was the first materials guy they hired and they showed me a dozen boxes of files and said that for the next six months my job was to read the files and learn what was in them. What more could you ask for than that? I was hired by Global and I was the only person in my graduating class to get a job right out of college. It was a stressful time since I graduated in June and didn't get my job offer until July. I started work August 2, 1983 (Aug 1 is a holiday in Canada). It was pretty scary. Bassano is a town of about a thousand people and we rented there for a year at which point we bought a small house in Rosemary. What a wonderful place to live. Someday I will have to describe Rosemary to you but that would take a book. It was a great place to raise our kids while they were young. Rosemary had 317 people (Lisa did the census so we know) and two of their ten streets are paved. I worked at Global from Aug 1983 until Jun 1992 at which time I accepted a job in San Diego. At the time I was the Engineering Manager at Global. It was a good job and I owe them a lot. Sometimes I feel guilty about how I just up and left them but I needed to move on. Tears were streaming down all of our faces as we drove out of Rosemary on July 1, (Canada day) 1992. We still have many good friends in Rosemary.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fred - The college years

Do you remember a week or two ago when I told you that Brandon and I had a bet to see who could lose the most weight before Ben's wedding? Well I didn't like eating less so I've been running two miles, three days a week. All that has done is made me eat more. I'm going to try a new tactic. I figure if I publicly tell everyone what my weight is that morning then I will have more pressure on me to cut out the garbage food. So here we go, this morning I weighed in at 211.3 pounds. To beat Brandon I have to get under 200 pounds so you need to help me get there. I will weigh myself at the same time every morning before I eat breakfast. Now the pressure is on. Last time I did this I lost almost a pound a day.

OK, here we go for Fred Leavitt part II - The college years. I left off in part one with me heading to BYU majoring in Civil Engineering. What a shock that was for my system. I was a straight "A" student all through grade school and except for Mr Brady's grade eleven English class I doubt that I did more than three hours of homework the whole time. Mr Brady was a pain in the but. He was from England and figured everyone should do homework just as a matter of principle. I have a real problem with homework, I think the school system here goes way overboard and I believe it does more harm than good. One thing is for sure, I definitely didn't do too much homework, that is until I hit BYU. In my first week there I did more homework than I had in my entire life before. Once the shock wore off however I settled into a routine and enjoyed college life. Boy do I have stories to tell but that will have to be for another time. I did my first two levels of calculus but I barely got through those classes. And then it was off to Belgium on my mission. After two years off from my studies I was really not thinking at all about school and I arrived home late in August 1979. Mom really didn't want me going so far away from home and the Canadian dollar was low so she had applied already for me to go to the University of Alberta. So here I was late in the summer, already accepted at the U of A and I hadn't even applied at BYU. I give my Mom full credit for the career I have today. She was an inspired woman. I'm sure we all knew that already. I get my student loans and head off to live with Greg and Gaylia. Little did I know that Greg home taught this cute little sixteen year old girl named Lisa. She was one of the first people I met when I moved up there but that too is another story for another day. In my first year of school I had a wonderful experience and a very stressful experience. After two years of no academics I headed straight into my third level calculus class. Simultaneously I had differential equations and I flunked them both. I also had a materials science class. As much as I hated calculus I loved material sciences. I was taking statics and dynamics and the whole time I could picture what was happening on the molecular levels to these materials. It was a whole new world that I hadn't even thought about. BYU didn't even offer a materials science program. I immediately switched majors to materials science and I've never looked back. I love my career.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fred - The growing up years

Well that sure woke me up. I went for my run during lunchtime and when I hit the showers there was no hot water. The cold shower wasn’t as bad as I was expecting however since it is 90° outside and I was dripping with sweat. Since there isn’t anything specific going on right now I thought I would talk a bit about what I do every day here at Kyocera. I heard it said once that most men love to talk about their careers. I don’t know if that is true for everyone but it is definitely true about me. It would be impossible for me to describe my career in one short blog so I think I will do it in a five part mini-series. Part I will be entitled, “Fred Leavitt – The Growing up Years”. As long as I can remember I have loved science, even before I knew it was called science. In elementary school my favorite class was science and then in High School when I learned I could take a physics class and a chemistry class and a biology class and auto mechanics and graphic arts I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The only thing that marred my life was English and Social Studies. I was about 13 years old when I rebuilt my first Briggs & Stratten motor. Dad had an old lawn mower engine that didn’t work so I cleared out a spot in Dad’s shop and took it apart cleaned it up and put it together again. It worked great. In ninth grade the principal of the school was Alma Sommerfeldt. He picked me and about 4 other guys out of math class and taught us separately. He figured we were some sort of prodigies and that small group setting gave me a huge head start in algebra. At about 15 years I rebuilt my first car motor, it was an old flat head straight six. A beautiful engine. My partner and I rebuilt our engine a month before anyone else did. My idol was my brother Greg. He was the closest thing to a scientist that I knew and I envied his lab. It was a happy day when Greg went on his mission and I inherited the lab. I really wanted to build a rocket like he did in the worst way. I was a bit handicapped however since I had no way of getting high strength steel pipe and powdered Zn. When it came time to go to college I took an aptitude test to see what careers I was inclined towards. My results were very strange. Mechanical Engineering scored 96%, Civil Engineering scored 93%, Forest Ranger scored about 95%, Electrical Engineering scored around 75% and then the next highest career was below 50%. I guess I didn’t have a well balanced character but it was pretty clear what I should do. I loved the outdoors and the mountains and I knew I would love being a forest ranger but if I did that I would never be able to do the sciences. If I was to be an engineer however I could still hike the mountains and enjoy nature. My brother in law Mark Hansen had recently started his career as a Civil Engineer so I headed off to BYU to become a Civil Engineer. The funny thing is that I didn’t apply for a single scholarship. I really didn’t think of myself as a particularly smart kid but years later when I looked back at my grades I had “honors” in five classes and good grades in the rest. I’m not sure what honors meant back then but I know it was a high A. I had honors in Physics (by far my favorite class), chemistry, biology (I remember I had a 100% in that class), Calculus, and Auto shop. I do know that my only “D” in grades 1 through 12 was in PE. My kids love to tease me about that one.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring Break

This week was spring break for Alex and Sarah in High School. In the past we have tried to go and do something fun for spring break but it just wasn't going to happen this year. Besides not having any money, they are both in sports and need to be around for practices. Fortunately, Ben gave us free tickets to Disneyland that he had received from Cotters and Lisa won free tickets to Sea World on a local radio station. The Sea World tickets also include dinner with Shamu. To buy this package would have cost us more than $400. Thursday we went to Disneyland. Unfortunately the Disneyland tickets were "2fer" tickets meaning you could go twice within thirty days. The first day had already been used (which is why we got them) but we were more than thirty days later so we had to pay real money for the tickets. That is OK however since we had a blast. We went on all of our favorite rides and came home dragging we were so tired. We weren't too tired to eat In-n-out on the way home. We had originally planned to do Sea World the next day on Friday but for a number of reasons we had to switch to Saturday. That was a blessing as it turned out since none of us were really up to two days in a row like that one. This morning was a nice and relaxed morning and after a good breakfast we headed down to Sea World. Since the day was nice and hot (high 80's low 90's) we didn't mind getting wet. Our first destination was the Shamu show where we sat square in the middle of the "soak zone". Boy did we get soaked. We then went to "Shipwreck Rapids" where we got soaked again. Next was the "Atlantis" ride where we got soaked again. We then met up with the Sanchez family and eventually made our way to the dolphin show where we got soaked again. One more ride on Atlantis and we were done getting soaked for the day. Dinner with Shamu was wonderful. It was an all you can eat buffet and it was good food. For dessert I had a huge plate of trifle. That was the best part. If you look at the picture of Shamu, that was taken from our table while we were eating. The whale is literally within arms reach of our table. It was a wonderful day and a fitting end to a wonderful week. I love spending time with my kids and I feel truly blessed to have kids who love to spend time with me. I'm a lucky man.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ben was Robbed

Tuesday morning Ben woke up from a peaceful nights sleep. His peaceful demeanor quickly turned to mild panic as he prepared to go to class and he couldn't find his text books. His primary concern of course was that finals are quickly approaching and he needs the books to study with but he also remembered the hundreds of dollars he forked out at the beginning of the semester to buy the books. He mentioned to his room mate that two of his text books were missing and his room mate told him that was funny because he was missing a text book also. When Ben was on his mission he was called as an assistant to the president in which position he ended up dealing with a few missionaries who were less than forthright. This skill of being able to detect deceipt came through now and he suspected that not all was well with his room mate. Based on a hunch he went through his room mates drawers and imagine his surprise when he found some of the gift cards he had received for Christmas presents along with some tools from his tool box that the Cotters had given him. With his suspicions confirmed Ben decided to go check the on campus book store. He told them his story and that he suspected that his room mate had stolen his books and asked them if they had any records of this person selling any books. Not surprisingly, his room mate had recently sold back three text books, the two Ben was missing along with his room mates own history text. Ben went to his coaches with this information and the coach bought back Ben's books with his own money (what a nice guy) and then Ben went to his landlord. He told her what had happened and then he told her he was moving into a different apartment (same building) with some friends that had an empty room. He asked if she had a problem with that and of course she didn't. She then told Ben that she was calling the police. The sad part is that this room mate was a nice guy and both Ben and Alycia liked him. It turns out that he needed some money quick and made a very bad choice on how to get it. He is now being arrested, he's kicked off the football team and he had to pay back the coach the retail price of the text books. Alycia went to check up on Ben at his new apartment and was quite surprised to find the door locked (it was never locked before) and a NO TRESPASSING sign was on the door. It also said, "no one is to enter this room with out permission from one of the residents". It is a hard lesson to learn but our decisions can sure have a major impact on our lives.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Let me tell you about Bridget. Bridget is my dog. We had a Border Collie when the kids were young but when the dog was shot by one of the farmers in the area where we lived we resisted getting another dog until Kira was in high school. I had always said, we live in the city and it wouldn't be fair to a dog. Dogs leave hair everywhere and they poop in the yard. Finally I said that we would get a dog IF it was free, had short hair, was small and everyone signed a contract to pick up the poop. That held them off for years until that fateful day on April 1, 1999. Kira's friend had a Beagle that had a litter of puppies and now I was stuck. That is how we got Bridget. Of course I'm the only one who picks up the poop. Bridget was a hyperactive puppy and ran all over the place but she has one fatal flaw, she eats continuously and since we were used to just keeping the cats dish full we did the same with Bridget. In a very short time she became very fat and to make things worse she has very painful joints. I took her to a vet who said that her sore joints were either arthritis or some congenital problem (I don't remember what she called it). She told me that for a mere $250 she could take an x-ray and tell me what the problem was. I asked her what we could do for the poor dog. She said there was nothing we could do. I then, very politely, told her that I wasn't about to spend $250 if there was nothing I could do for the dog. So we have a lazy dog that can hardly move, she cries once in a while because of the pain (we give her Ibuprofen) and all she wants to do is eat. We take her on a walk and we end up carrying her home. To top it off she has this massive mutant mole on her right hind leg that grosses everyone out. So Lisa forwards me an email one day that has a link to a real age test for your dog. With my poor decrepit Bridget you can imagine that I couldn't pass up this test. I swear I answered every question honestly. When they asked if I take her to the vet I answered "never", when they had the pictures of the different sizes of dogs I selected the "fat" dog. When they asked what kind of dog food I fed her I selected "the one on sale". When they asked if she ate garbage I said "yes". You can imagine my surprise when they came back and said that Bridget was an equivalent of 52 years old and almost a full year younger than the average beagle her age. I hope that means that I'll have my dog around for a few more years but if she pee's on the carpet again I might just toss her into the canyon.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Water Heater

I got home late last night and while I was trying to eat my dinner at ten o'clock Alex calls from upstairs complaining that there was no hot water. Apparently he was trying to take a shower but no matter how long he let the water run it never got hot. I put down my fish stick and went out to the garage to see what was going on with the water heater. You can imagine my disappointment to see the water heater surrounded by a rapidly growing puddle of water. The water heater was twenty years old which I am told is about twice what you can expect from them. I tried to turn off the hot water line so we could at least have our cold water but unfortunately the valve was frozen. I filled some pitchers with water so we would have something to drink and then turned the main water valve off. This morning I skipped work and removed the old water heater but then I had a meeting at 11:00 that I couldn't miss. From my meeting I headed to Home Depot and forked over the better part of $500 and got a new water heater along with the necessary valves, hoses and pipe. I was quite surprised by how well everything went, I only had one unexpected "event". The first thing I did was put a valve on the water inlet line so I could turn on the cold water and flush the toilets and pour a drink of water. What I didn't think through was that I had turned on the bathroom sink to let air in and drain the water lines. Since the valve was one of those single taps, when I turned on the main water line the water went from the cold water line, through the valve and into the hot water line. From the hot water line it came back to where the water heater would have been. You can imagine my surprise when water came shooting out of the hot water line flooding the garage. It took my brain a moment to register that water was coming out of a line that wasn't connected to anything. Other than spending my kids college money on a new water heater the whole event went quite smoothly. We loaded the dishwasher, Lisa did laundry and Alex got his shower albeit twenty four hours late.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Nearly 50 years ago on August 12, 1958 at 3:30 AM I entered this world weighing 8 lbs 10 oz. From all I've been told I ate quite voraciously and quickly grew in stature over the next several years until 1972 at which point I was 6' 3" weighing about 125 lbs. By the time I entered college I was weighing just under 150 lbs but when I graduated from college and the food supply grew I quickly jumped up to the mid 170's. That is where I stayed until I accepted a job offer at Qualcomm and that is when things started going downhill (or uphill depending on how you look at it). I recently read an article that said that people who sit for most of the day have a metabolism that is only half that of a person who stands most of the day. Well two things happened when I joined Qualcomm, for the first time in my life I sat more than I stood and I started traveling quite frequently. When I travel I essentially have an unlimited supply of food. You can imagine what happened when my metabolism was cut by half and I started eating a lot more. My weight gradually but surely climbed until at one point when it hit 220 lbs I scared myself. I quickly went on my version of a southbeach diet and lost a pound a day for a month bringing my weight down to nearly 190. Unfortunately I like to eat more than just cheese, tuna and sardines and just last Christmas as my weight was starting to creep back up I made a bet with Brandon. He too was bemoaning his sedentary life style so we made a bet to see who could lose the most weight by Ben's wedding. If I won he was buying me an In-n-out hamburger and if he won I was buying him a steak dinner. Seems a little lopsided but who's counting. Well Brandon promptly went back to school and lost his 15 pounds but I didn't change a single pound. I then made the tough decision that if I didn't want to eat less then perhaps I should burn more. I came up with an exercise program that sort of fit into my very busy schedule but running was not a part of it. I couldn't picture my flabby body bouncing down the sidewalk and I was also worried about my back. Well about this time Alycia texts me challenging me to run with her everyday that she was home for spring break. I figured that if she actually wanted to spend that time with me that I'd better get to the point that I wouldn't totally embarrass myself. I started running two miles once a week and riding my bike to work and back (26 miles) once a week. Running is probably a poor choice of words as Sarah can testify. She came with me on that first trip and she was kind enough not to make too much fun of me. Well by the time spring break came around and Alycia came home I could actually do the 2 miles without walking. To make a long story short, Alycia only ran with me once but I give her full credit for getting me started on a running program. My first 2 miles (in February) was about 25 minutes and today I hit a personal record (at least a record for the last 25 years) of 17 minutes. I still wonder if I'm going to make it the whole way but at least I'm no longer seriously worried about having a heart attack. Obviously there is no picture on todays blog because I'm now the guy I always used to make fun of. "Look at that fat slob running down the sidewalk. He looks like he could do with a little longer run."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Mom and Dad

Fifty nine years ago today a wonderful thing happened. My mother and father were married. What a wonderful heritage they have created. Everything I am I owe to them. My children will all testify that I quote my dad almost daily. I suppose I should write all of these quotes down. I don't even know how many there are. "Things like "measure twice, cut once". "If WE don't do it then who will?" "A half a**ed job will always be a half a**ed job." "If it doesn't fit get a bigger hammer." There are many others but you get the idea. Mom on the other had was not quite as eloquent but I clearly remember every day when I came home from school, I would walk into the house and call out "mom". I just wanted to know that she was there. Often there was the smell of bread baking. Just knowing that she was there made me comfortable and happy. I would make myself a sandwich (often with fresh baked bread) and sit down and watch Star Trek knowing that all was well with the world. I love these memories and my only regret is that half my children never knew my mother and the other half barely remember her. And that my father never got to see my children grow to be good responsible adults who love their Father in Heaven. Once in a while when I'm in a reflective mood however I can't help but feel that my parents are still there watching over me and giving my children the occasional helping hand they need to get through their trials. I guess they aren't that far away.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The New Family Crest

Some time ago a decided that I wanted to use the Leavitt family crest on various personal items. I had seen the Leavitt crest and I remembered it being rather boring. I went on line and confirmed that indeed it was quite boring. I then decided that I would make my own family crest. After all, someone had to make it in the first place and I believe I'm just as qualified to make a crest as he was. Well I went to work and what you see here is the result. Now before you laugh let me explain all of the various components to you. The wolf - The Leavitt name can be traced back to Normandy France (in the 1400's) where it was spelled Lovet. Lovet is derived from the Latin word for wolf. The Wolf on the left side of the crest symbolizes our heritage. I also believe it is a fitting symbol since wolves associate as strong family packs and while separate they are formidable creatures, when they fight as a pack they are invincible. The Latin word for wolf could also be translated as a fox too and I personally believe the women in our family are foxes. The Unicorn - On the right side of the crest is a unicorn symbolizing purity. The Hammer - The Leavitt's are builders. My father was a carpenter and my great grandfather was a blacksmith. I feel the hammer represents this well. We all have a desire to build and if we are not building tools and homes we are building character, relationships and people. The Atom - The atom represents our willingness to embrace technology. We all have a strong desire to understand how the world works. The Book - The Leavitt's love to learn. The Lord has commanded us to study all good books. The Sheath of Wheat - The sheath of wheat symbolizes our ability to bring forth the fruits of the field. We can cause the earth to bring forth it's bounty. This also symbolizes our ability and willingness to work in order to achieve something worthwhile. The Olive Branches - The olive branches represent our desire to live in peace. While we are willing to fight if necessary our first desire is peace, not only with our neighbors but also with nature. We are good stewards of the earth. The Banner - Honour, courage and virtue are self evident.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

My Newest Daughter

I want to talk about my newest daughter. Her name is Sharley Cotter but on May 31, 2008 her name will be Sharley Leavitt. When our family moved to San Diego in 1992 one of the first families that we became friends with was the Cotter family. When Sarah was born it was Sharley's mother (Jean) that we called to come and watch the kids while Lisa and I went in to have Sarah delivered. I'm sure that Jean couldn't have even imagined then in 1993 that the little seven year old boy running around the house would eventually become her son-in-law. Sharley was born in 1998 and Ben has known her most of his life but Ben was friends with Sharleys brother Taylor so Sharley was just the annoying little sister. It wasn't until last summer after Ben got home from his mission that things changed. Ben and Sharley got to know each other over the summer during young adult activities. If you want to know more about Sharley she is keeping a blog for her and Ben at It is actually Sharley that inspired me to go ahead and start my own blog. If you go to Sharley's blog she has a survey to see what school they should transfer to. You will notice that two schools are in San Diego and two are in Utah. I want all of you to vote for one of the San Diego schools. We want them to be close to home. I love Sharley.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Little Children

Aren't little children the most beautiful thing? Here are my two beautiful grandchildren. This was taken at Christmas time. Speaking of children, Lisa and I have an announcement to make. I guess it is more of a miracle since this wasn't supposed to happen. You guessed it... we're expecting a baby!!! I've been telling her for a while that I would love to have another child. She is obviously a little concerned being forty five years old and all but it will work out. Did you happen to notice the date on this posting? I think it said something about April first or in other words, April fools day. As much as I would love to have another child I think we will leave that job to the next generation. I still think I have the most beautiful grandchildren in the world. I still can't get over Sydney's hair doo. I think Evan is a little taken with her too. Evan was born July 15 and Sydney was born October 8.