Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just Because Christmas Is Over...

Doesn't mean that you can't have Christmas fun. Ok, I hate answering my own question/statement coming out of a headline like that, but it just worked, so I did. Last night was a bit of a monstrous visit to the Outlet Mall in Marysville and a somewhat quick jaunt through Wal-Mart as well.

It started with a wonderful dinner at Tuscano's in Monroe, then the somewhat short drive to the mall. I really wanted to hit the Sony store to see what they had in the way of speakers for my phone. I found a steal and a half, almost... Well, at least almost until there's a decent DLNA software for my Nokia, which will hopefully be soon.

Of course, we couldn't hit the outlet mall without grabbing some kind of a steal on shoes. After 4 failed attempts at ordering Ara's Converse online, she found them on sale for $30 at the Converse Outlet store. Needless to say, I grabbed them and got the heck out of Dodge.

As we walked towards the front of the mall, we saw the rarest sight ever... No Lines... That's right, it was the perfect time to stop for a coffee and a hot chocolate for the kiddo. So, we popped in, ordered and enjoyed our drinks for a few minutes before the crowd began to grow. We decided to make our way onward to the car and head out.

After that, we headed to Wal-Mart to grab a few things and look around. Found a few must have items, checked out and headed back home. Evie got what might be a last look at some of the prettier Christmas lights in Monroe, and I say last look as I just don't know when folks will be taking them down around here.

Once we wrapped up the quick drive around the neighborhood, it was home to bed foe the little one and some music playing time for Mama and Dada... Overall, it was a great night.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Time In The Country?

Maybe the country is a bit extreme, but it is far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I've talked about "the farm" quite a bit in the last year, but not in the way that I will today, at least not that I remember...

We arrived at the farm for another Christmas celebration. Breakfast food, coffee, great conversations and wonderful peep... Scratch all of that...

We arrived at the farm today to find the strongest woman I know writhing in pain from the medications that are trying to preserve her or at the very least, prolong her fragile life. You see, she has stage four cancer, and has for the last few years. She's beat off everything that it has thrown at her, until this last volley that has left her struggling to stay who she is.

It is more difficult than you could ever imagine, watching someone so strong, so full of life just not be able to do anything she wants.

Gleefully going out in the rain, wind or snow to care for the animals she loves so much... To be able to make a breakfast large enough for 12, when there were only 5... To launch witty comebacks at her hubby who just can't come up with a retort... As we sat down for Christmas this morning, I began to realize that not only was I losing a mom, but the world was losing one of the most amazing people that it has.

Sure, everyone might feel that way about someone, but Ara really summed it up the other night when we talked about her friends, her coworkers and even those that just knew her by reputation. She is a strong willed beast who has the kindest soul in the world. She'll tell it like it is, not taking any crap, but be willing to hug you five seconds later and tell you it will be all right.

I don't know if these meds are going to make her life any better, or even make it longer at this point. What I do know is that some of them are making it almost impossible for her to live out her life like she would want to. It makes me sad to know that she might have to stay on these meds until she is so sick she can't do anything, but I'm still hopeful that the doctors can figure out a balance that will let her live while she is still alive.

If they can't, it seems like an awful waste of time making yourself so sick that you can't live the way you want to. I'm not talking about going skydiving or something crazy, but just simple things, like taking the dogs for a walk, or maybe seeing Evie ride her new bike.

Well, this will end my incoherent rambling here as I'm not sure how to go on or even organize my thought foe today. Its hard watching this happen.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

It's Beginning To Look Alot Like Christmas

Christmas is my favorite time of year. The decorations everywhere, presents under the tree, heck, even the tree itself. I just love everything Christmas. Somehow, Christmas seems to make everything better. It may be the fact that I seem to refocus on Jesus a bit more, or that friends say hello a bit more often, if really doesn't matter.

What does matter is that the Christmas season makes me whole again, regardless of the largest loud neighbors, the crazy days at work, or the money that seems to last just long enough to make it to the next payday. Christmas must makes it all go away. So, hopefully this year, Christmas can take your cares away also. Forget the petty things and remember that there are more important worries for everyone. Just remember, a little kindness goes a long way.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Idiots Among Us

I tried really hard to get an image of this one, but it was too dark and too far away. So, instead, you get a really bad picture and the story of the moron and his girlfriend that snuck into the cabaña to use the hot tub well after hours tonight.

The story begins at 10:00 when I snuck off to the shower and hopped into bed... Ara comes in a few minutes later and tells me to come check out the kids that are getting busted for sneaking in to the cabaña. I hop out of bed and take a look out the window to see two of Monroe's finest, with two kids standing outside the pool area of the apartments. There's two problems with this scenario... One, the pool closes at 10:00... Two, it closes in September...

So we begin to watch. The cops bang on the door of the "owner's" apartment, and after about 10 minutes he finally comes out. The officer starts with the usual questions and eventually two more people make an appearance from the unit in question.

We're now and hour plus into this fun little excursion and the officers are speaking to the entire group. The rain is beginning to fall again, and the officers are standing out in it. I can only imagine that they are thrilled to be dealing with such a fun group tonight. They continue their verbal instructions for a while, until they cut the two kids loose back to their home...

I'm a bit shocked that the complex didn't have someone come out to check things. I'm even more shocked that the kids didn't get hauled off for making the cops stand in the rain for that long. Oh well, at least it was interesting.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Projects

So often around the holidays we get caught up in spending money on gifts, getting out to see the decorations everywhere and just forget how simple the holidays should be. We forget to take a day here or there to just enjoy being a family and spending some time together. As we count down to Christmas, here are a few fun projects that work for families of all ages...

Make Christmas Cards
A bit of construction paper, glue and glitter can make some seriously cute cards. All you need to do is just cut the shape of a tree, star, angel or snowflake from your paper, put some glue on it and sprinkle away with the glitter. You have one fun sparkly card ready to go.

Make Tree Ornaments
Use the same ideas as above, but this time either purchase some plain white ball ornaments or make some cool ones from the kids hand prints by placing two together in a 3D format. Simple cut two hands out, slit the top of one and the bottom of the other and slip them together. Decorate them and get them hanging on that tree.

Making Christmas Cookies
Sugar cookies and some frosting can be an amazing way to spend the afternoon inside. Simply make up a batch of sugar  cookies, grab some frosting and decorate till your hearts content. Plus you get the added bonus of having an extra gift or just having some fresh cookies to have with that Christmas movie later that evening.

Making Snowglobes
A Mason Jar, some hot glue or gel super glue and some Christmas miniatures combined with some glitter can make the most adorable gift idea. Glue the miniatures to the lid of the jar. Fill the jar with enough water to allow a small air gap to remain when the lid is on and sprinkle a bit of glitter, or a ton if you want more snow, with a bit of either glitter glue or glycerin into the jar. You have an adorable snow globe in minutes.

Of course, you can use your own great ideas to fill in those holiday evenings, but these will sure get you in the mood quick as you can assemble them.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Days Till Christmas

So, as I am trying to decide if I want to wrap up my "My Life From My Phone" blog, I find myself actually wanting to start writing my thoughts again. One thing that has me wanting to do this is simply that blogging has really filled many holes for my missing hobbies.

I'm not sure if 2013 will be the year the hobbies return or not, but it seems like an easy time to start thinking about it now. I have plenty of irons in the fire right now with my full time job at Shur-Loc, my side projects like Solavei, GetSmartphones.Info and even KrazyBird Photography. On top of those, I am currently writing 5 blogs, mostly on the tech side of things. It just seems like it might be time to leave a few of these behind and start focusing on something that is more me.

Tonight though, I will place all that aside, and focus on the next 12 days. Those 12 days that lead up to my favorite time of year. The 12 days that remind me that my family is the most important thing in life. The 12 days that will go so quickly, just like the rest of life.

That said, enjoy tonight, tomorrow and the rest of the year. It's never too late to enjoy today, but if you don't, you'll never remember yesterday with fond memories.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Time To Stop Blogging?

I've been struggling with keeping up on my phone blogging lately. It is too hard when trying to run multiple blogs from a mobile device. I find myself just not having enough to say about life when everything is going into my Windows Phone blog or my Smartphone Report blog.

Anyways, starting next year, the wife and I are going to start a new blog, hopefully together. We are going to cover all the amazing changes that we have made to survive on one income in a dual income society.

Look for it soon, but for now, let me know by commenting below if I should keep My Life From My Phone up and running. 

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Solavei: My New Cellular Provider

Almost anyone that reads my blog knows that I sell cellphones... I sell prepaid, postpaid, contract, non-contract, pretty much everything. I personally have cut almost $100 off my bill over the last 3 years. Since getting married, We've cut over $150 off our monthly cellular bill, and feel like we have better coverage than we did back then. Solavei is only making this a better deal for me, and it can for you too.

Solavei starts with great cell coverage, and a $49 a month cell bill. If that was the only part of the deal that would be awesome, but there's more to it than that. Not only do you get $49 coverage, but there's no contracts, commitments or long term deals to worry about. For example, you can purchase the new Nexus 4 phone from Google for $299, then activate it on Solavei and spend under $1500 for 24 months of cellular coverage. All the time being free to leave, upgrade devices, virtually do anything you want to. The same plan on Sprint with that "discounted" $200 phone would be $2838.76 before taxes, which will add another 15% to your monthly cost.

Solavei offers a cheaper alternative to post paid cellular, without compromising the service. Believe me, I'm not going to settle for less on my coverage, and I've tried just about every network in our area. My Solavei data speeds, even using an unlocked AT&T phone, are around 6.5-7Mbps downlink and 1.5Mbps uplink. That's more than snappy enough to use my HTC Titan on Solavei. As an added bonus, Solavei doesn't have the Internet Sharing disabled on my device, so it works as a wireless hotspot everywhere I go.

The long and the short of this post is that if you or someone you know is sick of paying too much for their smartphone, check out Solavei. It won't be for everyone, but for those that get it, it's an amazing opportunity. Not only do you get cheaper service, but you can actually get paid by your service provider for referring people to Solavei. Check it out today and start putting some extra cash in your pockets.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stripped: The Death Of A Hero

Today was a hard day to make it through, not because of a physical problem, or even a mental hurdle, but because today, the United States lost a hero. This hero defeated cancer and completed the toughest cycling event in the world over and over again. He won it 7 times starting in 1999 and finishing his domination of the sport in 2005. I wasn't in to cycling when he won, but Lance Armstrong was a name that everyone knew and was proud to say was an American.

Mr. Armstrong had all but accomplished everything a human being could do. He was a world renowned champion of the hardest race on the planet. He had beaten cancer. He founded one of the top fitness and cancer survivorship programs. He was an inspiration to millions of young cyclists and most of all, until now, he was an honorable man that the system was trying to destroy with horrible doping and performance enhancing drug rumors.

I guess I look at this and think, "I don't care..." I don't care if he transfused his blood or took some super-human growth hormones. The facts are, at least according to those that accused him, was everyone was doing it, so nobody had an advantage. I don't think it's fair in a world where Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were proven 'druggies' by almost everyone on the planet, but can get off because of a screwy court system, that someone as decent as Lance Armstrong goes down in flames.

Tell you what cycling world... Take his titles, take his money, take his sponsorships... You can't take the greatness that he accomplished, enhanced or not.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Love Free Dinners!

Amazon's local Snohomish deal is one of those great ones that everyone loves. It was a buy one Whopper get one Free at Burger King! What an awesome deal, I mean a half price dinner is perfect for any time of year, and even better when schedules get hectic.

If burgers aren't your cup of tea, they also offered a smoothie or Original Chicken Sandwich option also. Hurry and grab these at your local Amazon site which can be found at

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Friday, October 19, 2012

What To Do When Photos Stop Syncing

It is a problem that will drive most users insane. When you connect your phone to your PC and the Zune software opens... then the 24 items failed to sync notice comes up. You delete some images, videos and pray, but still nothing. As scary as it is, you don't need to hard reset your device or even delete any content, you just need to check two things to make sure you are ready to resume that syncing relationship.

First, if you are in an area with multiple WiFi signals, double check to make sure the computer and phone are on the same one. It won't happen every time, but sometimes the competing security measures will keep you from obtaining the proper security keys to send data between the device and the computer, even over that USB connection.

Second, the issue is usually caused by the .jpg or .jpeg file format being assigned to a different default program setting. This is quickly fixed by hitting the start button and typing, without the quotes, "regedit". A quick click of the Yes button to allow the computer to open the editor will reveal some interesting menus for many, but only the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT folder is of interest to you. Click on the folder and scroll down until you see .jpg in the list. Single click it and you will see a file called Default in the pane to the right. Double click "Default" and it will open a window with one editable line that is filled with a program name. Erase the program from the box and click OK. Repeat this for the .jpeg entry as well.

Close out of the editor by clicking the x in the upper right corner and try syncing again. As soon as your Windows Phone is reconnected to the computer, syncing should resume and all the errors should clear immediately. Happy syncing!

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Walking With Evie

Today was looking like it was going to be a straight through marathon week once again, but at the last possible moment, a u-turn led us back to Monroe for a bit of rest this afternoon. Instead of heading to the farm in the late afternoon and trying to piece together another part of the chicken coop, we came home to take care of some household chores like laundry, cleaning out the truck and even getting Evie a good nap to help avoid the crankies.

The nicest part was getting some walking in with Evie. We made the loop around the apartment, then drifted over to the trees on the opposite side of the complex. We found rocks, leaves and flowers. We swung and played, ran and walked. We raced and strolled, held hands and talked... It was exactly the kind of afternoon I needed.

Tomorrow is going to start another insanely busy week at work and a bit of a day off with the kiddo is exactly what was needed to get in the right frame of mind for it. Of course, it will be hard to make up the lost time from today, but we will figure that out later.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 900 powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Saturday, October 6, 2012

It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

It's October... It might still be 70 degrees out, but it is fall. We are having a gorgeous bout of weather in the Seattle area this year. There hasn't been any measurable rain in over 2 months and the temperatures rarely fail to reach 65 or better. Today, we decided to welcome fall anyways with a trip to our favorite pumpkin patch in Arlington. The Plant Farm at Smokey Point always has a great little setup for grabbing our fall decor.

We started out with a quick visit to Evie's favorite, the bouncy house. Then it was a short trek through the pumpkin field, which was full of perfect pumpkins since we were so early this year. While I made my way back around with the wheel barrow, Evie and Ara hit the petting zoo - though I think only the sheep were out as more animals were still coming in as we left.

From there, the girls hit the train ride, then I joined them on the hay ride. We took a different route than normal this year as we went south from the farm instead of north. It was the same short ride, but a different direction. Still fun though! From there we hopped back into the bouncy house for a few minutes and headed out with our bevy of squash-type decorations. There wasn't any carving quite this early, but I'm sure when there is, we will have plenty of photos to share!

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Evie's First "Real" Puzzle

Today was fun. It was a quiet, stay at home, kind of day. Relaxing, enjoyable and so reminiscent of those days when there weren't quite so many outside distractions. Days like this are something we all need once in a while.

I had begun the day with a bit of football fun watching the Seahawks vs. Rams, when Evie came up to me and asked if I would help her with her Nighting McQueen puzzle. We had bought it for our Disneyland trip, but she didn't end up needing it to entertain herself, so in it's little tin it sat.

We cracked open the case and popped open the top. We dumped the 24 piece out on the tray and flipped them all over. She then started to make the picture she saw on the front of the tin.

It took about 15 minutes, but she finally got the last piece in place with almost no help from me, but it sure was fun to "help" with this one. Maybe next time I'll have her do all the work and see if she can do it start to finish.

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Product Photos From My Phone?

Time limitations sometime make us try crazy things to save a few minutes. This week, my crazy thought was to take photos with my Titan and Lumia 900 for use with out next product flyer at shur-loc. I tried this first rather than set up lighting, tripods and selecting the right lenses for my DSLR.

I positioned the frame on a black table, in the sunlight, and snapped off one quick shot. The image was pretty close to what I was looking for, so a few minor tweaks to the settings and I was in business. I wasn't thrilled with the Lumia's images so I grabbed the Titan from my bag and shot a few with it.

Within 8 shots, I had both of the images I needed and popped them into Photoshop on my PC, cut the backgrounds, saved them as a higher quality TIFF image and placed them in the In-Design flyer page.

If I get a chance, I'll post the actual PDF file on here soon, but until then, there is a JPG photo of a hard copy of the flyer at the top of the page.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Evie's Halloween Costume

Once again, Ara has amazed me with an incredibly simple project that turned into a beautifully fun costume for Evie. For Halloween, Evie wanted to be a superhero. After searching through the typical Spiderman, Batman and Iron Man options, none of us were happy.

Ara bolted off to Pinterest once again and found a template for a mask and started her work. A short time later, Super Evie appeared in thr hallway. The best part of this, besides being homemade? Total cost was under a Jackson! So, if you want to know where to find the patterns, leave a comment below and I'll have her post the links!

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Just A Roof And A Door

We are so close to finishing the chicken coop and I'm still not even sure I'm spelling it right. Is it supposed to be coop or coup? Seriously, I don't care, but I do dislike misspellings something fierce. But, back to the more important things...

A week ago, we were wrapping up our Disneyland trip and getting ready to come home. Since then, life has been all about settling back in. The weather has been wonderful and I actually made it to the gym twice last week. Not great, but not as bad as some of the past 6 weeks have been.

I'm shooting for a 6 day week this week. I think I need the decompression time with the craziness of work, the thoughts of other career moves and the overall strain of life at the moment. I find myself reaching out to a few old friends in hopes that we can schedule a boys night for beers and darts or something.

Anyways, back to the coop... We finished the three sides today, both the top and bottom mesh. Now we only have to frame in the entry door and get the roof mesh in place and we will be in business. I'm not sure how quickly that will happen but I'm hoping to be done in the next two weeks, or before the weather starts getting nasty.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Disneyland Trip: Day 4

Today we decided to commit suicide, seriously. We decided to head to the park today and NOT take our afternoon break. The morning started off with a nice stroll through the Main Street stores looking for those last day souvenirs and fun things to take home with us. We didn't find much, but we did find a few fun things for Evie. 

The day started out in Pixie Hollow and a meeting with Tinkerbell. Evie had been looking forward to this for months, so we were happy to have such an perfectly timed visit with her. She was great, but the whole thing had a bit of a commercial feel to it, unlike the Snow White experience the day before. Still Evie loved meeting Tink, but was bummed that Terrance wasn't there with her.

We took the Disneyland Railroad from New Orleans Square to Toon Town, where the crazy doorbells and shocking doors were quite entertaining. The jail cell with the rubber bars at the Dog Pound made for good times too. Evie had a great time on the Roger Rabbit ride, even though she had no idea who the characters were. She also got to meet Mickey and Minnie in Toon Town.

After wrapping up things in Toon Town, we ventured to Village Haus for a good lunch and a black forest cupcake. Then it was off to The Golden Horseshoe to catch a fun Frontierland show. The little 15 minute comedy was cute, but not nearly as much fun as the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies Show we saw a few years back.

New Orleans Square was the next stop with Evie getting to experience Pirates of the Caribbean for the first time. She definitely had fun, but not enough to do the loop and ride again. We then took a bit of time and rode the Mark Twain Riverboat.

After we finished that up, we pushed through and headed over to California Adventure again. We had dinner reservations for 6:30 at the Wine Country Trattoria and the Color of Wonder Show. Of course, we tried to catch the trolley there, but it was overfilled again, so no dice.

Instead, we walked down the main drag to the Hyperion Theater to catch the 3:20 showing of Aladdin, only to find it was cancelled. Since we were already there, we drifted over to A Bug's Life and Flick's Fliers once again. This time Evie didn't want to ride with me, so Ara was subjected to another round of the crazy ride.

From there we found the Splash Pond, and Evie's hour of running and playing. She had a fantastic time in the water. She even made a few more Disneyland friends playing in the water. We spent the next 40 minutes trying to find flip flops and something to do until dinner. It was quite fun just wandering the park without any schedule or any place we had to be.

From there, we rode Ariel's Undersea Adventure a few more times during the crazy parade because there was no line. It was starting to get close to dinner time so we headed off to the restaurant.

The dinner was fantastic, and the service was good. Fortunately, the gift card we had covered dinner completely and still left enough to take a bite out of the sweatshirt we got Evie for the chilly night at Color of Wonder. We quickly killed the 30 minutes between the end of dinner and the opening of the reserved seating for the show.

We found a great place to sit right on the stairs with a great view of the show, or so we thought. About 5 minutes before the show started they asked us all to stand to make room for the other people. Funny part was, everyone stood and nobody else came at all. I guess reserved seating isn't seating after all?

Oh well, the Color of Wonder show was amazing. It was fun, colorful and Evie had an amazing time. After all, that was what this trip was all about, and I'm pretty sure it was a smashing success. I do have the bad feeling that Ara is right and it will be impossible to top this one next year, but Daddy has a few ideas already...

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Disneyland Trip: Day 3 - The Evening

The evening of day three got a bit later start as Ara and Evie had a great nap in the afternoon. It was really a nice break though and made the decision to just order room service much easier. We ordered a pizza and an appetizer plate... Too much food! The appetizer plate alone would have been plenty.

After an almost over filling dinner, we headed back down and caught the shuttle back to, wait for it, Disneyland, instead of heading back to California Adventure. We decided that there was still so much of Disneyland that Evie hadn't seen and used more time there.

We started out in Tomorrowland with Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. Evie had a great time and was actually becoming a pretty decent shot by thr 3rd time on it. We also hit the Finding Nemo Undersea Adventure, you know, the yellow submarine ride. That about took care of Tomorrowland for what Evie could ride there.

We headed back to Fantasyland and checked out a few favorites before calling it a night again. There was finally a short enough line to get on to the Peter Pan ride. Evie enjoyed driving the Pirate Ship quite a bit on that one. After "Pee'd Her Pants" was over (that was Evie's name for Peter Pan) we made a quick trip over to Snow White' Scary Adventure and one more trip on It's A Small World.

It was time to head back after that and we caught the shuttle back to the hotel. Evie had done a great job for the long day that she had put up with, but she had a Tinkerbell to meet in the morning.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Disneyland Trip: Day 3 - The Morning

Today started off again with a great breakfast at the hotel before hitting California Adventure to check out Cars Land and Bug's Life. We made it in with no problem, but were surprised how many of the attractions weren't ready for opening.

When we finally made it to the Bug's Life section, there were no lines to be seen as everyone was hanging in Cars Land. We made it on Flick's Fliers with no wait, then Hinrich's ride. We also hit Tuck and Roll's bumper cars and Francis' Lady Bug spinner as well. We finished off the area and moved on to Cars Land.

Cars Land was pretty cool with our first ride being Mater's Tractors... Fun but not really sure it was totally worth the 30 minute wait. The biggest bust of the trip so far was Fillmore's. Instead of being a great place to have lunch, it was just another snack stand. Flo's, however, was an awesome place to have lunch and we did. We had a great view of the Radiator Springs Racers, which only made us wish that Evie was a bit bigger, so she could ride on it.

We also swung into what became Evie's favorite California Adventure ride, Ariel's Underwater Adventure. She rode it 4 times in a row and loved every minute of it.

After that, it was back to the hotel to regroup and nap for the evening adventures.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Disneyland Trip: Day 2 - The Evening

The evening was even more magical for Evie than the daytime was. She was still recovering fro her Princess fun and her first Disney rides, and after a nice nap, she was recovered enough to head back to the park for more rides and excitement. It started off with a trip through a lit up Main Street USA. For someone that loves Christmas Lights like Evie does, it was spectacular.

After cruising through Main Street, we ventured to New Orleans Square for dinner, only to find the few restaurants that were open to be completely packed and the majority were reservations only. We finally found a dinner home at the River Belle Terrace where we had a decent dinner before catching the Fantasmic show.

Fantasmic was simply amazing. The visual effects that Disney put together for this thing was more than any one show should feature. It left Evie in a trance, and in a good way. She kept talking about how Mickey beat the dragon!

From there it was off to Adventureland and the Jungle Cruise. Evie had a blast in the jungle and can't wait to go back, but the lines were a bit long for a back to back ride on that one. We then decided to make the walk back to Fantasyland for a few more rides while the fireworks went off, hoping for shorter lines.

We got back to find almost all the rides shutdown except for the Teacups... So, Ara took Evie on the teacups over and over and over... Until we decided that it was time to call it a night and prep for California Adventure in the morning.

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Disneyland Trip: Day 2 - The Morning

Day two of our Disneyland vacation went just as well as the first. It started with a beautiful breakfast at the Embassy Suites. The buffet included customized omelets, eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon and a ton of fresh and ceral options as well. It wad a great start.

After filling up, we hopped our shuttle bus to the park. This is probably the only "negative" of the trip so far. Our shuttle drops us at the very front of the park, or about 1/4 mile from the actual entrance. This was a far cry from the ART service that we had our first trip together dropped us a few hundred feet instead of the trek we had from PCA.

Our trip though the park started on Main Street and continued through Fantasyland. We rode Mr. Toad's Wild Ride first thing, followed by King Arthur's Carousel. We then hit Dumbo and the Tea Cups before heading around to find the Princess Parade. Evie met Snow White, Jasmine and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) at the Princess Walk. We also caught a glimpse of Belle, Tiana and Cinderella after we finished. Then it was off to lunch.

For lunch we settled on the Frontierland BBQ. It was an amazing BBQ fest of Chicken, Ribs, beans, bread and coleslaw. It was worth the price and was all you could eat! After a quick visit there, we racked up about 24 of thr 52 pennies that were on our agenda. We are trying to collect all the flattened pennies from Disneyland.

When we were done roaming around, we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel for a rest. Next up, the second day, evening report!

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Disneyland Trip: Day 1

Today we left Seattle for our Disneyland vacation. We were plenty early for our flight due to the amazing JetBlue staff at SeaTac. The wonderful service continued at the gate and on to the plane. After boarding, we were met with spacious seats, and amazing attendants. The first one brought Evie a pair of JetBlue wings and Animal Crackers before takeoff. What a great experience. Right now we are somewhere over the southern Portland area... More coming soon...

We have now crossed into California according to the super cool Google Maps feature on the airplane's DirecTV setup. Cruising at 550MPH and 37,500 feet has never been this much fun. Evie has been a champ thus far and is happily playing on her iPod since Sponge Bob didn't hold her interest like Dora did. I think I'll log off again until we land and get our baggage.

The day continued to get even better as our shuttle van was still waiting as we were a few minutes late getting our luggage. We were whisked away to our hotel quickly and arrived about a half hour before check-in. I read online about some people's experiences checking in early and how it wasn't allowed, but another surprise for us!

As soon as I walked in, the agent at the desk not only checked us in early, but upgraded us to an amazing fireworks view room. We ordered a bit of lunch and began to settle in for our stay before taking a quick walk over to grab a coffee and a milk for Evie.

We came back to the hotel for a quick swim, then headed to dinner at Buca di Beppo's. After dinner, and it was a bit of a late dinner, we stayed in and enjoyed a bit of snuggle time before Evie crashed out for the night.

Overall, we couldn't have asked for a better travel day and we can't wait to start out Disneyland fun tomorrow!

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Coop Takes Form

Today we managed to get over half the walls for the chicken coop up and ready to wire. It went rather smoothly overall and except for the incredibly rocky soil, the work wasn't terrible.

We made a base area of 15' x 8' with a height of 6'. There are 4x4 posts anchoring the structure and 1x6's making up the 'framing' for the wire. We ran short of the 1x6 boards, so a hardware store trip is in the works for the ride out tomorrow.

After we pick up the final pieces of lumber tomorrow, we should be able to finish this up quickly and get the chickens into their new home. Hopefully, it will happen before we leave for Disneyland this week.

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Day At The Beach

Friday was my first day with the Nokia Lumia 900 in my pocket for a day away from the office. After a 15 hour day at the shop on Thursday, I was looking forward to a bit of fun. We picked up Bree and Mick and headed to the Jetty for some beach fun, even though the weather was overcast.

Fortunately, the weather broke about an hour after we arrived and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. The water was beautiful and the sandcastles were in good form. Evie had a great time with the twins and her friends that tagged along.

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Playing With The Lumia 900

So, here I am with yet another new device sent to me by the amazing folks at Nokia USA. I have the pleasure of using the Nokia Lumia 900 this weekend as we capture our trip to the Jetty in Everett, our mall run tonight and the rest of our chicken coup adventures this weekend. We will see if the battery holds well enough and the camera is as good as the amazing HTC Titan's was.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 900 powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Monday, August 27, 2012

Solavei - A Possible Future?

I was recently sent an email for an upstart cellular company from Bellevue called Solavei. The company was in search of MLM people to push their new social network of cellular users to the public. I blew it off until I got an email from another person that was into the system as well. So, I accepted the invite from the company and jumped on board.

The system is a great little deal with $49 cellular with unlimited talk, text and data. The cost is competitive and the coverage is good using the T-Mobile network. Overall, it seemed like a good program to get onboard with.

Then I started doing the math... For every 3 people I sign up, I get $20... For every 3 people they sign up, I get another $20. This means with a standard of 3 people per month, and those 3 bringing in the same, by the end of the first year, my monthly take would be over $3000 a month!

This isn't a pipedream or a get rich quick scheme, but a real, tangible goal that i could reach. Just looking around, I see people that I can help save money, and earn some at the same time. This could be the beginning of a new life, a life without crappy apartments, or living paycheck to paycheck... A real "dream life" for me and my family.

If you are reading this and want to check out the system and see how you can make the change, visit me online at and fill in your name and email. I'll get an invitation back to you as quickly as possible. Start making a difference in your future today.

Sent from my HTC Titan Windows Phone powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Day At The Jetty

I managed to sneak out of the office for a three day weekend visit with the visitors from Kansas this weekend. It was nice to take a day away from the shop and not think too much about it. We decided to make it a fun day with a trip planned to Jetty Island in Everett.

We boarded the 3:00 ferry, which is really a two minute ride across the channel, and most of us made it. John, Joni and the kids were going to be late and Steve, Jeanie and the kids just flat out missed it from the parking lot. It was a bit funny, but a bummer all the same.

We got over to the Jetty and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of playing on the beach, having a little picnic lunch and making some Smores. Everyone else decided to head out early, but we stayed until the 8:30 boat back just to enjoy the quiet.

We're planning on another trip over this week as I'll be off Friday again with a 4 day weekend before our Disney Vacation next week!

Sent from my HTC Titan Windows Phone powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Monday, August 20, 2012

How To: Amazing Images From A Phone

If there is one thing that people still bring up as a failing point in their smartphone, it is usually a camera or the photos that that those cameras take. There's a bit of luck involved with photography, but a good photographer can take a great photo with a disposable camera.

Setting up your image is probably the most important step in getting a great image. Focus on your background as much as your subject. While the subject needs to be the focal point, there's nothing like a lamp post, book shelf or personal photo in the background. Color is also important. Make sure your colors don't clash, but also, that they stand out in your image.

If you plan on shooting in black and white, pay attention to shades of gray. Oranges aren't as dark as yellows, reds are darker than pinks. Its always a tough mix to shoot black and whites in a heavily saturated image, but it can be even more magical to convert those brilliant colors to blacks.

Now that you've set up a decent background and have the subject in focus, start by setting up the camera on the device. There are different settings on each manufacturers cameras, but the basics will set you up quickly.

White Balance: Auto usually works ok, but if you have time to set up the actual lighting conditions, the images colors will pop. You can do this by placing a sheet of white paper in the area you are shooting, then selecting the white balance that matches the white paper the closest in your particular setup.

Saturation: Usually a plus one or two will saturate the images very well. Take an image or two to see if the colors are saturated enough then set your levels.

Focus: Again, auto focus is the way to go. Some cameras call this Normal, which will take a sample of the image area and focus on as much as the lens allows. Simply set this up and you should be good to go.

Finally, you are ready to shoot a few images. Once you are all setup, shoot away and have some fun. Remember to shoot plenty of images and get down to your subjects level. If you are shooting kids, get low. You'll have much better results.

Sent from my HTC Titan Windows Phone powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Our Chickens?

There's something about adopting an animal that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. There's also something about having animals (yes plural) dumped on you that is very stressful. Our chickens are one of those "stressful" ones.

A few weeks back, we were lucky enough to have 10 chickens dumped at the farm for "us" by friends of the family. This was pretty cool, mainly because Ara had been talking about getting some chickens for awhile. Talk about great timing right? Well that was before all the medical problems and the fact that there was zero usable space for them.

So the journey began to make a little home for the 10 chicks. That wasn't too hard since they were so tiny, but then they began growing and doing it quickly. Plans for a pallet coup, pretty coups, affordable coups and even scanning Craigslist for coups was a daily thing.

We now have 10 very close to full grown chickens and finally have four walls to build our run around. We still have to get the roof on, but baby steps on our first project here. Today we finished the sweep out doors and let the chickens roam for the first time. That was a big step and the first in getting them ready for a run. Hopefully, we can get the run mapped out and ready to roll either before we leave for Disneyland or right when we get back.

Then we can get the roof on and make them a happy home instead of a cluttered cage.

Sent from my HTC Titan Windows Phone powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Friday, August 17, 2012

GdgtSea: A Night Of Fun

I've been trying to make it to the Gdgt Show in Seattle for a few years now. Fortunately, last night was finally my night to go. With many of the hottest vendors in Seattle scheduled to be there, it was going to be fun.

The evening started with a visit to the entry table and a few iPhone covers provided by @speckproducts. Next up was Chris from @Nokia and their Windows Phone table. I was happy to run into him as he will be getting back to me with good news soon. After that, the journey continued back to my new found Twitter pals @HTCUSA. There the ladies let me play with the Evo 4G LTE, the One S and the One X. All very impressive handsets to say the least.

The @Rokuplayer booth was next. We have had our Roku for 3+ years and use it daily. The streaming box is amazing and we will probably upgrade to a new one someday. From there, @Twonky made a great presentation about streaming media from your iPhone/iPad or Android device to your TV. Cool stuff happening there.

Then buried in the back corner I found more Twitter pals from @Tmobile. Not only did T-Mobile have a fun booth setup with the "My4GLife" photobooth, but they had plenty of phones and reps for answering questions. Well played T-Mobile. Oh, and thanks for the MyTouch Q!

From there it was wandering time. I picked up a few water bottles, some free online storage coupons, some little fun stuff for Evie and a few more useless giveaways that will probably end up broken, but it was still awesome.

I hope to put the next one on the schedule as soon as I hear the dates. The event was a blast and I can't wait to do it again.

Sent from my HTC Titan Windows Phone powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One More Project Done

Last night we were able to get out to the farm to knock out one more project. Getting the old willow tree out of the yard and all stacked up. After Jan hit the 3 foot tall grass with the mower and laid down some anti-weed cloth, two pallets were thrown down and the stacking began.

We anchored the pile with 4 T-Posts that a tarp could be mounted to for keeping the wood dry. Overall, a very successful plan came together beautifully on this one. Plus, there's room for more lumber if they have any other trees let go in the meantime.

Sent from my HTC Titan Windows Phone powered by GetSmartphones.Info

The Coop Gets A Coat Of Paint

Sunday, our little "pallet" coop got itself a coat of that clearance paint we picked up at Lowe's for $5. The cool part is, the light gray color is pretty far good for it. It definitely needs some trim and accents, but the base color is looking good.

Next up on the agenda, getting the upper and lower doors hung and then, getting the run built.

Sent from my HTC Titan Windows Phone powered by GetSmartphones.Info

The Coop Gets A Coat Of Paint

Sunday, our little "pallet" coop got itself a coat of that clearance paint we picked up at Lowe's for $5. The cool part is, the light gray color is pretty far good for it. It definitely needs some trim and accents, but the base color is looking good.

Next up on the agenda, getting the upper and lower doors hung and then, getting the run built.

Sent from my HTC Titan Windows Phone powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Turning 37...

Thursday was my birthday. It started off normal enough, working in the morning and having to close up the shop since nobody else showed up. Yep, pretty normal. From there, the day got much more fun.

Ara picked me up at 4:30 from work where we dropped Evie off at a friends house to play for a few hours. We then headed south to Bellevue to hit Sushi Maru for dinner. It was delicious as usual, and then time to head over to Redmond Town Center to catch a movie at the iPics Theater there.

iPics is far from a "movie theater" as it is more like a living room with a giant TV and waiters. Since we had just had dinner, we walked the mall and relaxed a bit before settling on for our movie. We chose Safety Not Guaranteed and loved it. Quirky, funny and entertaining. A perfect mix.

Now, the theater was where the real fun was. For $22 you get a wonderful experience including popcorn, and tableside service throughout the flick. We ordered a cucumber soda, a blackberry mojito and a piece of Chocolate Cake that was quite good. Overall, the wonderful night with the wife was perfect. Mostly due to the company, but the places we went were fun too.

Sent from my HTC Titan Windows Phone powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Start Of The Chicken Coop

Today was the hottest day of the summer so far in the Seattle area. Temperatures topped 90 degrees across the Puget Sound area and we picked today to go stand outside and build something. Crazy, yes... Needed, of course...

With the news of some rather large predators lurking around the farm, getting the chickens a bit more protection is pretty high on the priority list. So construction began today.

We started with a basic 48x48 pallet for the flooring, then raised it 39" off the ground. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a bit high, but we will see how it works. Then we through a few plywood walls together and attached them to the base. With the three walls in place and the floor ready to go, we gave the parts lists to the parental for approval.

It sounds like the wire will be there Monday for installation and the roofing should be laying out back. Hopefully, we should be able to make this house a home for the chickens within a week or two.

Sent from my HTC Titan Windows Phone powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Movies At The Park: Week One

We didn't have high hopes for the first week of Movies at the Park. After the last few weekends had been anything but great weather wise and the fact that the movie of the week was The Muppets, we were just hoping for decent. Fortunately, we were pleasantly surprised by both.

The weather was gorgeous and we couldn't have had a better day to start the series. It was dry all day, which is good since the field they host it in is a sponge. The sun went down about 9 is and the movie ran until 11. Overall, an A+ for the weather and timing.

As for the movie itself? I don't see it winning any Oscars or even being a highlight for anyone's career, but it wasn't the worst movie I've seen by a long shot. The plot was simple enough: The Muppets haven't done anything in a long time and have gone their separate ways. An oil tycoon wants the land the Muppet Theater is sitting on and the Muppets need to reunite to save the day. That's the long and the short of it. I wouldn't call it a buy it on DVD, but it is worth a RedBox visit in my opinion. 

Best of all, we had a pretty good night out at the park. The weather was stellar, the movie was good and the time together was wonderful. Next Friday is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides if anyone wants to join us. It will be a fun night. I wonder if Evie is old enough for that one yet?

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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Three Year Checkup

There is nothing better than only having to visit the doctor for well care visits. I have been loving the fact that Evie has been so healthy lately. It has been a great year for her. Today, it was time to visit our pediatrician one more time.

Evie was a super trooper as usual for the doctor. She was excited to see Dr. Baer and I couldn't wait to see some official numbers on how she was doing. After what seemed like a long wait, we went in for the measurements... Height, 36.5"... Weight, 29.5 lbs... A very decent set of numbers for a three year old. Not the biggest kid on the block, but far from the smallest.

Overall, she is a happy, healthy baby girl who is quickly growing into a preschooler. We'll get more into that later, but for now, enjoy the shot of the kiddo that I snagged while we were in the office.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

No Longer Two

Three years ago, today, we were blessed to have a little baby girl enter our lives. I like to think that the world is a better place because she is in it. Our baby girl just brings sunshine into any place she goes. She's not perfect, but she is happy.

Today, we celebrated her 3rd birthday with family and a few friends. It was amazing to see such a wonderful support group turn out for her today. She has been so blessed to have such wonderful grandparents, stellar friends and good people to learn from. The difference in those people will also help our girl grow into an amazing woman later in life.

For all of you that are a part of Evie's life, thank you. For those that aren't yet, we can't wait for to meet her and see what a joy our little baby is. Well, maybe not such a little girl anymore...

Sent from my HTC Titan Windows Phone powered by GetSmartphones.Info

Monday, July 23, 2012

I Love Sentimental Times

I love it when the wifey gets sentimental. She gets creative and comes up with all sorts of beautiful art. This was a simple doodle that she jotted out one night. It was one of those completely random things that she just did. I loved it. I doubt she even knew I took this, but I did.

It was originally done on a green stenographer notebook. I took a quick picture of it and edited it up in Fhotoroom for Windows Phone. After throwing a few fun effects on it, I came up with the image above. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

Sent from my Windows Phone from GetSmartphones.Info

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wasteful Society, Wasteful Coffee Place

On an otherwise normal Sunday morning, we made our normal 10:00 stop at the Monroe Starbucks. While waiting in line at the drive though, I was checking in on my Windows Phone with 4th and Mayor. I looked up to see the image above. Garbage stacked as high as you can imagine, and all of it was milk containers.

Now, I'm sure that Starbucks is an environmentally friendly company, but this image just says it all... With nearly 20,000 locations worldwide, this mound of plastic bottles would stack up high enough to reach the moon in no time at all. Perhaps the coffee giant should rethink how they get their products delivered.

This plus a few other interesting tidbits that I have learned recently have made me decide that I am done with Starbucks and their lines of products. Hopefully they will have enough people do the same and start to change their corporate behavior.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Terrible Morning...

Today just sucked. I was up most of the night enjoying a beautiful lightning storm, woke up cranky, and arrived at work to find a fried computer. Fortunately, my Focus S was still pulling my shur-loc emails so I didn't lose much in the communication department, but I did lose a ton of data.

The things that got lost were things that just can't be replaced. Flyers, software, design work, and a billion other files and email lists are gone forever.

I'll rebuild them, slowly for the time being, but I will enjoy my new monster HP 520xt touch screen when it arrives in a week or so. For now, I'll just be grateful that the storm didn't destroy more.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Project Chicken Coop

We were able to finish the small chicken coop today. It was great to get the area cleared and the coop in place. We moved 4 chickens in tonight and we will have to wait and see if they make it through the predator filled night.

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Recovering Nicely, But Still Behind

So my dieting drama got even worse yesterday, but at least while I was at work I was able to do a dent in the old calorie count for the day. After a 4lb gain over the weekend, which launched me back into single digits for week one, I made it through the day with very little intake. That was my first mistake. It ended up being compounded by the fact that we ended up having dinner extremely late. By the time that the burgers were done on the grill, I was starving and ended up eating 2 burgers, a handful of chips and downed about 2 cups of ice cream for dessert.

That said, somehow with only my 2 little rides back and forth to work, I am down a pound today. I need to be a bit more assertive about dinner and just go with my gut for what works. I am out of shakes at work, didn't bring a lunch and not sure what I am going to do today. I think I need to stock a 2 week supply of shakes instead of one and really try to reign in my horrible dinner habits if I am going to have any chance of making this happen.

Now, with that out of the way, it's time to get some serious gym time scheduled as well. I know that life is becoming a bit chaotic, but without that extra burn, I need to cut quite a few more calories from my intake if this is going to happen... Time for potatoes and shrimp for a few weeks I guess.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

A Great Week One, Destroyed

If any of you are following this blog daily, you'll know that I am one week in to my 30 lbs in 30 days weight loss plan. I was off to a roaring start hitting 11 lbs on Friday. Then the weekend arrived and a the destruction began.

Going into the weekend I had a brilliant 11 pound loss. Saturday was going to be tough since we were headed to a party mid-afternoon. Fortunately, I did well at the party, only splurging on chips. Dinner, was were the weekend officially fell apart. We drove out to Duvall from Bellevue to meet Steve and Jeanie who were going to be dropping off some shelving. By the time that wrapped up, we were staring 8:00 in the face and "starvation" had set in. It was a fast food night. Although my Doritos Taco was awesome, I knew it was a bad idea.

Then Sunday rolled in and the day started out bad with a late start. We made it out to the farm with only a quick stop by Starbucks for a coffee and lunch. The fact that I was up too long already made me hungrier than I should have been and I ended up with 1100 calories going in for lunch. Bad start to the day there. Then even after telling myself not to be bad when we went to Denny's with Mom and Dad for dinner, I ended up ordering another horrid meal, the Lumberjack Slam. Then to make it even worse, i got stuck in the ice cream aisle at 8:00 last night. Bad place to be when the, "I already blew the weekend" feeling hits.

I have got to get this under control if I am going to be successful with this loss. I am still at a ver strong 8 lbs for week one, but i should be at 10+ easily. I'll start plugging away again this week and try to have a better weekend next time. For now, I'll be happy, just because I have to be, with my 8 pounds and move on.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Year Later...

Today was the start of the 2012 Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. Part of me really wishes that I was on it right now instead of sitting on the couch watching Phineas and Ferb, but I know it wouldn't have been the best fiscal move for us. I do miss riding though. I really should take mornings like this and head out on the bike, but I just never know if it's going to be a hurry up and go day, or one like this.

I never thought of riding as a getting in shape thing, but I did have to get in shape to ride. I'm already back to the weight I was when I rode last year, so that's a bonus. I'm also a bit stronger from the gym and feel like I have more energy. About the only piece I didn't have this year was the seat time. Which is easy enough to get.

Oh well, maybe I just need to plan a bit better and make a bit more of a schedule so I can get some of the stuff I want to do worked into the day. For now I'll just go back to the cartoons and enjoy the quiet.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

A Whine Session: Just No Me Time...

I have to admit that I am feeling selfish today. I realized that I haven't had any me time in quite a long time. I haven't done any of the activities that I like to do for one reason or another in almost a year. Even that time was more about something someone else wanted to do and I got roped into it.

I don't have the time to do the things I want. I don't have the spare funds to enjoy the activities that I love. I guess I'm just feeling a bit put out right now. I try and cover my feelings, put on a happy face, and just pretend I don't miss things, but I do.

I miss playing golf. I missing playing the drums. I miss spending hours playing Warcraft or Stronghold Crusaders. I miss going to baseball games. I miss shooting darts at the bar, even after I stopped drinking like it was going out of style. I just miss...

So there's my mini-rant for the day. Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone! We'll see you on Monday.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

30lbs in 30 Days...

Some of you may have noticed that the weight loss ticker on my page has reset. This is because I reached my 20 pound goal - step one - and have started moving towards my next big step - 50 by my birthday. This means that I am starting my aggressive 30lbs in 30 Days diet. It will be back to SlimFast and "trying really hard" to curb the late night snacking. I might have to short side some time with the wife in the evenings just to get past that hurdle, but it should be good once I'm in the swing of things.

As you can see, day one yielded a 2lb loss, so with that as my average, I'll be down 60 in 30 with no problems at all. Now if I can just get back on a schedule to get to the gym daily, I'll have this whipped in no time.

PS - If you are looking for a great App for calorie and workout tracking, I highly recommend It's available for all the major platforms and is online as well.

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