Monday, November 5, 2007


When I started making I had no idea what I was getting into. On Tuesday (11/6) in Utah there is a statewide vote basically on whether or not Utah should have school vouchers (it's actually a little more complicated, but that's the basic idea). This is a HUGE deal. People from all over the country are watching this issue, because it could set a major precedent. There is massive opposition to the voucher movement, most of it brought on by huge leftist organizations. One major argument for the opposition is that the $3000 vouchers don't even begin to cover the expenses of private schools and therefore will only help those people who are wealthy enough to afford private schools in the first place. Enter The reason this site was rushed to go public (I would have loved to have spent a few more weeks working out a few bugs and making it way more stable and faster) is that it will play a major roll in the election, because it absolutely and utterly destroys that myth. There are 19 schools (if I remember right) in the state of Utah that will be FREE with a $3000 voucher. Anyway, Fox 13 in Salt Lake did a piece on this site Saturday and a few newspapers mentioned it in articles. On Friday, the following press release was sent to all (or at least most) the media in Utah:


November 2, 2007

Launch of -
Automatic voucher scenarios for any private school

Utah – A powerful new website launched today providing parents throughout the state with school pricing and mapping features that allow parents to comparison shop any private schools in their neighborhood. Automatic calculations of voucher scenarios for any family at any school are a key feature of the site. With a single click at, users can also sort schools by price, city, name, school size, classroom size and 15 other variables. Sliders allow narrowing searches to match parental preferences, including price range.

The site is the independent creation of Daniel Earley, a Lehi businessman who serves on the board of directors of Children First Utah and occasionally volunteers for Parents for Choice in Education.

"I first realized the public needed something like this a few years ago," said Earley. "At Children First Utah we were providing half-tuition 'vouchers' for disadvantaged kids to attend private school, but low-income parents rarely knew how many affordable private options they really had. This website makes it easy to compare them all side by side, see how close you live to them, and even see what size voucher you would qualify for, and how much it would reduce your tuition."

Earley began working on the website a few months ago when Referendum 1 first became an issue. "People need to be able to compare and see for themselves, with nobody manipulating the results. Once they see what's out there, the truth is undeniable."

According to the website, Utah offers over 115 private school options, not including residential treatment centers or boarding schools. Nearly 2/3 of these options would cost $1970 or less with a full voucher and almost half would cost under $950. Of those, about 20 school options end up costing nothing.

"To lump all schools together for a tuition average is meaningless to the real parent," said Earley. "I made the distinction between 'private schools' and 'private school options' because that's how parents actually shop for their kids in the real world. A school that offers K-12 might be a single non-profit entity, but from the perspective of a parent with multiple children, it's at least an elementary school and a high school, perhaps even a middle school. Besides, schools often set prices according to those categories, and some even have seperate administrators and buildings for each grade cluster. Because the bottom line is how the parent sees it while shopping, I organized the website from that perspective."

Designed to grow into a national "consumer reports" of private schools, the site has begun collecting data on classroom size, school size, teacher hiring priorities, admissions priorities, accreditation, testing, uniform policies and 15 other aspects of private schools for parents to compare. Data is displayed on the website under the categories Affordabililty, Academics, Culture and Availability.

"Think of it as the of private school shopping, combined with Consumer Reports," said Earley. "It's currently in beta while we work out bugs and fill in gaps over the upcoming weeks. Over the next two years it will cover every private school in all 50 states."

To test drive the site visit . (Site may not yet be viewable to Mac users.)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Work, work, work

So a couple of months ago I got an opportunity to show off my mad programming skillz to the world when a guy a co-worker of mine knows contracted me to build a website for him (that was a hell of a sentence). Anyway, about an hour ago I pushed a live beta (Utah only) version to the world ( after a week of very intense work. Monday and Tuesday alone I worked 27 hours; but hey, more money for me, right? That's especially good since we are moving in a week and a few days. I figure this project will last at least a few more months, and once it is complete, I will have an excellent specimen to add to my portfolio, allowing me to snag more work in the future.

So right now I also have a job with a company named Empire West. They are a plastics company, and they make some rather neat ceiling tiles. But anyway, while my bills are paid by Empire West, I don't actually work on any Empire West projects. You see, the owners of Empire West and a company called Pavement Engineering Inc (PEI) are good friends, and they often trade resources. I am one of the resources they trade. So all the work I do is actually for PEI. Well, I told my boss (Sam) this past Monday that I am going to move to Texas. Conversation proceeded and I am going to be a consultant for PEI from my house in Texas (for more money than I am making now). Yeah, I know, I am awesome.

Good things about Utah

As I promised, here are the good things about Utah.
  • Fast, Cheap Internet. We have a 15Mb fiber optic internet connection for $40 a month. It's awesome.
That's it. End of story.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Reasons you should not move to Utah

Given I've had some experience in the matter, here are a few reasons you should not move to Utah:
  • State sales tax and state income tax. Also, Utah taxes food, which is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of.
  • Too many Mormons. Yeah, I know, I am Mormon too, but seriously, it's just not cool. People who move to Utah refer to "the bubble". What they are referring to is the fact that most Mormons who grow up in Utah have the warped sense of reality. They are completely ignorant of the workings of the outside world and they think it is a wicked place full of sinners and Utah is perfect. People who live in "the bubble" are often referred to as "Utards".
  • People don't know how to drive. I've heard that this is worse in Provo than in other parts of Utah because of BYU. There are basically two "schools" of driving here in Utah. Either you slam on your breaks when the light turns yellow and then pound the gas when it turns green, or you just run the light. If everyone did one or the other, it would be fine; but since half the population does each, it causes problems. Also, when the light is green, but there is no arrow, people pull out into the middle of the road, wait until traffic is clear and then they go. But they sit there until the last car has completely gone through the intersection. I, on the other hand, wait back at the line you are supposed to wait at, and then when the last car is almost there, I go, timing it perfectly and wasting no time; all the time not sitting in the middle of the intersection. This tends to piss people off (I don't know why; it's a lot safer). I have even gotten honked at for not pulling out into the middle of and intersection. Yeah. Not to mention the fact that two-thirds of the population has never even heard of a blinker/turn signal.
  • It takes forever to get anywhere. Utah has this grid system of roads, which enables you to locate any address extremely easily. For example, my address is 630 E 800 N, which means that my house is 1/3 of the way between the roads 600 E and 700 E and it is on the road 800 N. The problem with this system is that there are WAY too many intersections, and therefore WAY too many crosswalks. To add to this problem, the red lights on the main roads are not synchronized. So you'll wait at a red light for 2 minutes, go, and then wait at the next red light (which is the next block down) for another 2 minutes. So you end up driving twice as far to avoid the main roads so you can get there in half the time.
  • Utah people are rude. This really isn't that big of a deal, but people in Utah just aren't as nice as people in Texas. If you pass someone on the sidewalk in Texas, you make eye contact and say, "Hi". In Utah, people look away or look at the ground and ignore you.
  • Driver's License is expensive. So, Alexandria does not have a drivers license. She has a permit for Texas and could get her license there, but that's not transferable to Utah. To get a driver's license in Utah (for the first time) you must take a $260 driver's ed course (which is the exact same as the "parental mail-order" course in Texas that costs like $25). No exceptions. This even applies if you are over 18. If you are under 18, you still have to hold a permit for 6 months.
Well, that's all the bad things I can think of right now. I will write a (smaller) list of good things about Utah later so as not to seem so biased.

Moving Back to Texas

So, Alexandria and I have decided to move back to Texas. Why, you ask? Utah sucks.

We had always planned to move back to Texas, just not this soon. It just so happens that now is almost the perfect time for us to move. We talked about it this past Sunday (10/28) and decided that the pro's greatly outweigh the con's. So on Monday, Alexandria and I both gave our two weeks notices. We will be leaving Utah on Monday, November 12.