Jake’s summer business: Lawn Rangers

In the summer of 2014, Jake started his own business. He started edging lawns and got several neighbors interested. So, Jake plunged in.

We had an old edger that Manina bought from a yard sale. But Jake knew from edging our own lawn that that machine just wasn’t an option for a commercial lawn care business. So in April 2014, he secured a $400 loan from his grandpa Mike with the promise to pay it back in August with $5 interest. He researched a few models and ended up purchasing a McLane 801 edger and Hitachi leaf blower from Amazon. He also invested in a hand edger for curves and tricky-to-reach spots. He worked hard that summer and had no trouble paying back the loan.


Jacob has worked hard the last couple summers, slowly adding more clients. He takes pride in his work and loves to drive by his customer’s lawns and point out how good they look.

For this 2016 lawn season, Jake purchased a new weed whacker and a new self-propelled lawn mower to add to his equipment. He’s offering full-service lawn care and has even talked a friend into working with Jake on some of his bigger jobs — his first “employee”.

He has a bunch of clients around the neighborhood and seems to add new ones all the time. This keeps him plenty busy during the summer.


For Jake’s birthday, we made him a couple T-shirts with a logo we had designed by his Uncle Matt Thurman (thanks, Matt!).


I’ve had more than one of his customers come up and tell me what a great job Jake is doing. Even the owner of Bunker Lawn Care (Jake’s biggest competition) came up to me and told me how proud I should be of how hard Jake works. People are taking notice and it’s starting to pay off.

Keep up the good work, Jake!

A new commute

My commute to work today was much shorter than it has been for some time. You see, my employer, Ancestry, moved its headquarters to nearby Lehi. I’ve been working at Ancestry for about a year, and before that I was at a neighboring building at Morinda for 10 years. I burned about an hour a day in travel time working in those locations. Doing the math is pretty depressing – I’ve spent almost 4 months of my life driving to and from work at Morinda and Ancestry down in Provo.

The new commute is now about 5 miles right along the Timpanogos highway. That goes pretty fast in my car. Or on my motorcycle.

There is also the Murdock Canal bike trail which covers nearly 90 percent of route. So, I plan on bike commuting a lot too. But, because it is close and relatively flat I wanted to be able to ride in my work clothes instead of getting all decked out in my lycra and riding my fast bike.

So, it was a perfect excuse to buy a new bicycle.


I found a 2016 Trek District listed on KSL Classified. It’s basically brand new; the little nubs are still on the tires. The owner blacked it out, and then had a hard time selling it, so I got it for a bargain. It’s a great bike and super quiet. Makes zero noise with the belt drive and internal geared hub.


I’ll probably have to get a bell or something so I don’t scare fellow trail walkers, runners, riders. I’ve christened her “Stealth”.


Anyway, change is good, especially when that change involves much less time driving and a new bike. It is nice to be close.

Our Two Soccer Referees

Both Jacob and Megan have spent a lot of time this spring calling soccer games. Jacob did it last year and found out that it was a pretty sweet job. Megan joined him this year and together they make a pretty good team.

It began back in February with training. Both Jacob and Megan had to attend a couple workshops, view some online training materials, and pass a test. Jacob is at the age where he can be the center referee, while Megan’s first year will be as an assistant referee (AR).


The center referee is the one out on the pitch with the players, in the middle of all the action. The AR patrols a sideline of one half of the pitch. The AR’s main job is to call out-of-bounds and watch for offside violations.

It’s a great job for teenagers, and they have a pretty flexible system which allows the kids to set their availability and location preferences, and then commit to the work. A coordinator assigns the referees for the match, and Jacob and Megan were able to pair up for a lot of them too, which saves on the driving back and forth.

Some assignments get paid cash-in-hand straight from the coaches. Others are paid through direct deposit. But, either way, the referees make pretty good money. As center, Jacob earned about $20-30 per game. An AR assignment pays usually about half of that. But, that’s not bad considering the games are less than an hour long.


But, it’s not all roses. Parents yell at the refs, a lot. Megan and Jacob both had games where they made bad calls and got yelled at. Some coaches are intimidating and angry.

One night last week Manina and I drove to pick up Jacob from a game. We were a little early and when we arrived it looked some parents and coaches were yelling at Jake. Manina went into “momma-bear-mode” and was about to go ballistic on some parents. But after assessing the situation, it looked like Jacob had things under control. When he blew the whistle three times to signal the end of the game a parent took a few steps toward Jacob. Then he extended his hand, shook Jacob’s hand and told him that he did a fantastic job and that Jacob had called a great game.

The spring season is about over, but both Jacob and Megan will be back out on the pitch in the fall. It’s good work if you can get it.

First week at Ancestry

This was my first week as an employee of Ancestry.com and it has been a week of adjustments. Everything is new to me at Ancestry. Here is a quick list of some of the things I had to adapt to during my first week:

Being totally clueless

After almost ten years at Morinda, I had a very good idea of how things worked and who the key people were—I was very comfortable. I’m still in the I-have-no-idea-what-I-am-doing-here mode at Ancestry. I hear acronyms tossed around in a meeting and I have no clue what it means. I heard IRL a couple times on my first few days and I couldn’t figure out what it meant, despite even googling it. Nothing seemed to fit. Days later I figured out that we have an office in Ireland, and the mystery was solved.

People come over to ask a question about how this-or-that process works and I’m really glad I wasn’t the one answering the question because I didn’t even know the company was in that line of business.

I ask a plethora of really stupid questions and constantly bug my co-workers with my ignorance. I have a lot to learn.

Eating lunch on-site

At Morinda I would go off-site for lunch very often, but Ancestry does a very good job at making me want to stick around.

One of the less-publicized perks offered by Ancestry is a pretty well-stocked cafeteria called the Shaky Leaf Cafe. During work hours it offers fresh berries (my favorite thing so far), cereal and milk, hot chocolate, sodas, frozen yogurt, and fruit. All of these things are totally free.

Frozen yogurt at the Shaky Leaf Cafe

The Shaky Leaf also provides lunch and also breakfasts on Thursdays. These meals aren’t free, but they’re subsidized and end up being very affordable. I only went off-site once this week as a result. My weakness so far is the salad bar. I can load up a pretty delicious and healthy salad for about $4.

Wearing dot com attire

I ran into a buddy of mine on Tuesday morning in the company cafeteria. I was dressed in a nice button-down shirt and some khakis. He gave me the ol’ elevator eyes and said something about my clothes and trying to make everyone else look bad. I confessed that I still needed to work on my dot com wardrobe selection.

He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, sneakers, and a hoodie. Like just about everyone else. I’ve even seen shorts and flip-flops. I have a few casual clothes, but most of my wardrobe leaned toward the nicer end of the business-casual spectrum. I need to drop a load of stuff off at the DI and then go shopping.

Knowing no one

I’m not sure how many employees are at Ancestry HQ, but it’s a big number. I meet someone new every day and almost immediately forget his or her name. I often consult the online employee directory to match up names and faces. After the second or third time seeing someone, I can usually greet them by name, although I’ve made plenty of mistakes. The good thing is that being new is a great excuse for forgetting a name—so many to remember!

While I have a lot of new things to get used to, I’m very excited about my new job. I will continue to grow, change, and learn, and eventually I’ll figure things out at this new company and settle into my role.


Farewell to Morinda

After just about ten years at Morinda, I am moving on. Today was my last day and I’m excited about what the future may hold.

About a year ago, I made a list of priorities in things that I would look for in a new job. Morinda treated me well, so I was going to be very picky about my next career step.

Last day at Morinda

The timing of my resignation was less than ideal. Most of my peers and superiors were out for spring break for the entire previous week. So, this week has been extremely busy trying to make the transition as smooth as possible. But that all came to an end today.

This morning I brought in several dozen warm Krispy Kreme donuts and passed them out to my coworkers to celebrate my last day. Almost everyone was positive and excited for me. It was a strangely emotionally-taxing morning, but as one wise person mentioned, this kind of change is good. “It’s good for the company because someone new will step up, a new person will get hired, and old problems will be attacked from new angles. And good for you because you’re going somewhere fresh where you can learn from new experiences and ways of doing business.”

After making the farewell donut tour, there was still work to do. I spent an hour or so doing last-minute training for Mark and Carter on some technical functionality, wrote a super-simple farewell email, then I handed in my equipment and walked out the door.

My department took me to lunch at Wild Zucchini, which was nice because I was already close to home. I picked up a new cell phone (I’d turned in my Morinda-issued phone just hours before) and then drove home.

Congratulations Poster

My cute wife had some gifts and a poster laid out on the kitchen table, which brought a giant smile to my face as soon as I walked in the door. I love all the notes from the kids (particularly Drew’s which reads, “Dad we love you as a dad from drew”). Manina even bought me a couple new shirts which will be have me looking sharp at my new job. But, more on that new job next week.

Thanks Morinda, but it’s time for my next chapter.