Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Spare me the jokes about taking so long between posts until another date. (They are deserved, btw). This topic deserves a mention and immediately inspired me to post.
Unless you're my grandmother, I don't know anyone who doesn't have internet access. If this is the case, then you probably use it for searching for just about anything you need to buy or service you need performed: pizza joints, plumbers, repair shops, etc. You can also use sites like Angie's list that will give you feedback/recommendations for most companies that advertise heavily in the phone books.
Which brings me to the topic of phone books. Why - in the name of common sense and all that is seemingly right with this world, do I receive FIVE new phone books every year? I haven't used one in probably a decade. I don't recall asking for one, much less five of them. So they go directly to the recycling bin as soon as they arrive. They waste my time, and not to mention are an obvious drain on the planet's resources.
There is good news: You can FINALLY opt out of all those irrelevant phone books forever. Just to this link, http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com/ , enter your zip code, and let the process take you to a world free of books printed on canary yellow paper.
Friday, July 24, 2009
If I ever could have a job that afforded every opportunity to waste tons of time, this is what I'd do.
This micro-city is made completely out of staples. Plain. Old. Staples. And the result is beautiful and stunning. I can only image how many times I'd have to start over if I ever attempted to build something like this myself.
Friday, May 29, 2009
I've blogged before about MP3 players (or PMPs as the more technical term), but my 30GB Zune is having hard drive problems and barely runs for 5-10 minutes without crashing. I definitely think Apple makes better players, but I'm too cheap to pay top dollar for them. So I'm eyeballing the landscape to see what choices are out there.
Obviously, Apple dominates the player market, but I really like the Zune's software and integration with their players.
The game just got interesting - Microsoft just announced their new Zune HD player which is scheduled to go on sale sometime in the fall. The reviews for it are based of pre-production units, but even in beta, the Zune HD looks solid. Consider me impressed and seriously looking that way.
For any geeks who read this, this thing is smaller than the iPhone, has an OLED display (read: better than iPod Touch/iPhone, has built-in HD radio, finally has a web browser to go along with the wi-fi that Zunes have always had)
My only gripe is that this thing doesn't have GPS on it, and Microsoft has generally stayed out of the GPS market despite producing several excellent software packages on the web and for purchase. Only the iPhone has all the features I want, but you can only get the phone if you sign up for the data plans - and I'm not into that...
The photo above is from Gizmodo, but be sure to check out this link for more photos and videos.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
I have mixed feelings about it - the signs were there that this day might come, but it's still sad nonetheless.
I stopped by the school during a trip home from Des Moines for work in late October. It was a beautiful Fall evening, and the memories came flooding back.
The picture above is of "Old Main." This is the administration building, as well as the chapel/theater where I performed in several plays along with my senior speech recital.
This is a picture of the center of the campus. That's the dining hall straight ahead.
Here's a picture inside the library - one of my favorite places during my years at Pills. The furniture has been rearranged, but this is roughly where I'd sit for a couple hours a week reading the most recent magazines, newspapers, and periodicals - as well as doing some class reading. It was quiet - just the way I remembered it.
This is a view from the center of the campus looking out toward the soccer field where I placed for 4 seasons. Clearwaters Hall is on the right - this is where most of the faculty offices were located.
This is the men's dorm - where I lived for 3 years. Not much has changed inside, other than updating the furniture.
On Jan. 2, I took Teagan to her first hoops game: T-Wolves vs. Golden State. She loved it - didn't complain at all, and was really into the game. Tess especially enjoyed clapping, and watching the "dancing princesses" (what we ended up calling the Timberwolves Female Dance Team.)
I couldn't force my camera to both autofocus or flash, so I'm not happy about the way this turned out...
The game was pretty good - Karsten's and my second MLS game this summer. Of the two stadiums, I liked Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Denver better, but Toyota Park in Chicago is quite nice as well.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I promise I WILL eventually get to blogging the rest of our vacation, and other subsequent trips and events, but this one is pretty easy to blog about.
Last weekend, I was talking to a certain relative of mine, and his kids had been repeatedly asking if he would build them a tree house. It's not that this daddy didn't want to, but like most daddies, he knew his capabilities and limits - and decided this was a task that was better left undone (or better yet, avoided altogether).
So I read today about this shoo-in from Canada for "Intergalactic Daddy of the Year." Unlike most dad's, he DID build a treehouse for his kids, but he went all out to make it happen in just 15 months.
Consider the following from the original article from The Record in Ontario, Cananda (via Gizmodo)
It's equipped with electricity and cable TV. There's an intercom so Norris can talk to his kids if they're having a sleepover, and a urinal that drains into a pail beneath the structure.
A smoke detector is wired to the house, so family members can be alerted to any smoke, whether they're in the treehouse or not. A revolving light clicks on when the treehouse's trap door opens (where a rope ladder drops down).
Old fire horns that Norris snagged from the University of Waterloo blare if an intruder tries to break into the fort. "It sounds like an air-raid back in Berlin. But I had to do it for my peace of mind."
Even the family's Jack Russell-cross, Sammy, has his own ramp. Norris made it after the dog fell near the top of the wide, stair-like ladder.
The roof is sealed and welded on tight, and the floor is sturdy enough to hold an adult. Stephen sleeps in a loft bed, Ryan on a mini-futon and their father on a pull-down bed.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Rapids have a new stadium (Dick's Sporting Goods Park) that is just gorgeous. It seats a little over 20,000, and there's not a bad seat in the place. The weather couldn't have been better either - a perfect night for soccer with temps in the low 80's at kickoff, and only dropping to the mid-70's toward the end of the match.
We sat in the cheap seats, which still had great views and sightlines. We could have moved to much better seating once the match started, but Karsten wanted to stay where we were. Our seats were in the section next to the "avid" fans section - they played drums and trumpets, and sang the entire match. Pretty cool - although not the flavor of international matches that I've been too where the whole stadium in singing and playing instruments.
Geoff Cameron is a rookie on the Houston Dynamo, and has been getting reagular appearances for the 2-time defending league champions - a significant achievement. His mom, Diane, ended up sitting right behind me, and I had several converations with her before and during the match. Geoff didn't start, but entered the game at the 70th minute, and created several good chances for teammates to score.
Colorado Rapids are affiliated with Arsenal (you can see the Arsenal banner above the tent on the right side of the photo above. They are sort of a minor league/development team for Arsenal - but there's not a lot of close ties that any serious fans would notice. Nonetheless, Karsten is definitely a Rapids fan since the two clubs are affiliated with one another.
The power went out at the 70th minute and delayed the game for about 20 mins. Three of the four light towers failed. There was still enough light to see, but there were definitely too many shadows for the match to be played until the lights came back on.
Oh, and Karten wouldn't let me take his picture, nor would he let anyone take a picture of the two of us at the game. He's already acting like a teenager - and he's only 7.
The game ended 0-0. A couple goals were disallowed for either side, but it was pretty entertaining all the same. We will definitely go back, and are also planning to visit an MLS game in Chicago later this summer as well.
We decided to ease into vacation and do a nature hike at the South Platte Park in Littleton. It was close to our hotel, offered exposure to the great outdoors, and seemed to have plenty for the kids. It's certainly not the most scenic part of CO, but it was worth the trip.
The nature center offered a couple important amenities: 1) air conditioning, and 2) a flood simulator where kids can build a city of sorts, and see how flooding and erosion have an impact on where we live and the environment. The kids absolutely loved it, and would have played longer than the 45 mins or so we were in there.
The kids travel pretty well. The only irritating things they do are get on one other (and my) nerves, and make a big mess of the van - but we manage around that well enough. Frankly, what do you expect when you're in a van for around 55 hours in 9 days, and they do that at home often enough - so there were no suprises there
We had some severe storms (hail, heavy rain) between the CO-NE border and Denver, but managed to get this pic of a huge rainbow after we cleared the inclement weather.
So baby steps are in order, I'll start by covering the first few days and hopefully have the entire vacation blogged within a week or so.
We decided to go to Colorado this year. Why did we choose Colorado? Well... the best reason is we couldn't come up with anything better to go that was within a more reasonable distance (if you call nearly 1000 miles each way at today's gas prices "reasonable," that is). I lived in Denver for a summer during college while I did my internship, and loved it. Nikki has been there too, so since there's lots for the kids to see and do as well, it seemed like a good choice. I'm glad we did.
As I did last year, here are a few stats from our vacation:
- Miles Driven: 3126
- Hours Driving during 9 days of vacation: ~ 55
- Emergency bathroom breaks: 2 (still room for improvement, but I'm not complaining...)
- States visited during trip: 6 (MN, IA, NE, CO, WY, and SD)
- Survived a Hail Storm?: yes (2 years running now)
- Cost for new brakes on van because people ahead of us didn't know how to drive in the mountains on vacation: $487
- Number of nights staying in hotel: 9
- Number of nights we paid for a hotel: 1 (we used my Hilton points for every night except our last night in Wall, SD - since Hilton didn't have any nearby hotels)
- Stops at McDonalds: only 1
- Moving/Traffic violations: 0
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I had actually set aside some time tonight to start some blogging again, but Nikki ended up spending out night on something else.
We left to take the kids to Park and Rec soccer tonight, but as we backed out of the driveway and on to the street, we noticed a bunch of (at least 5) police squad cars in front of our neighbor's house just 3 doors down. Our neighbors were outside their house standing next to their vehicles on the street. We pulled over and asked what had happened - and they had just been burglarized. It's a huge shock for them (obviously) and for the rest of us neighbors. We live on a quiet street in one the of lowest-crime areas in the metro area, and this just didn't seem true.
It turns out the burglars came sometime between 2-4pm - in broad daylight. They didn't take laptop computers or electronics (very lucky), but instead went after jewelry and their financial records. Reportedly they succeeded at both - even getting credit cards and social security numbers.
As a result, one of our other neighbors just signed up for ADT home security tonight. We ended up doing the same this evening as well. I have to travel too much for work it seems, so this gives both Nikki and I peace of mind. We also went through the house looking for any financial documents or credit cards that were easy to get to, and also made sure to store other important documents in an OFF SITE location. I also shredded three bags full of documents and old check stubs as well.
We've talked to our neighbors tonight, and I've compiled a list of tips I've learned from them, as well as adding a few of my own.
1. Sign up for online billing statements. I'm amazed at how many documents I shredded tonight (and then burned in the fire pit.) If you opt for online statements, you get the additional benefits of decluttering, saving time, and also reducing the impact on the environment.
2. Even if you sign up for online statements, you need to make sure you store your statements online or on your computer SECURELY. That means use passwords whenever possible for both hardware and software. (this includes thumb drives and back-up hard drives). Lock down your wireless network and internet access. Encrypt your data if possible as well.
3. Back-up your data. Our neighbors were lucky that their computers weren't stolen, but imagine if you all your personal photos, files, and other important (even irreplaceable) information is gone in an instant like that along with everything else. There are seemingly countless computer back-up options available that are easy to use. Use them...regularly.
4. Shred your documents as you receive a piece of mail. Consider whether you really need to keep a document for more than a few days. Shred junk mail/solicitations as much as possible- this includes credit card offers and other solicitations as well.
5. Our next door neighbor is a police officer, and he said you should try to answer the door every time a salesperson comes to your door. This may seem counter-intuitive (for personal safety reasons) - so let me explain. There are crime groups that go door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions, tree services, and countless other things. Do NOT ignore them. They HOPE you don't answer the door, since this gives them an opportunity to case your property for either an immediate or future burglary. If you answer the door, decline whatever they are selling, and then keep an eye on them as they continue through the neighborhood or any suspicious activities.
6. Crooks know where to look for your personal documents, jewelry, and other valuables. Your desk drawers, bedside tables, and dressers (underwear or sock drawers) are typically the first places crooks will look. This also goes for credit cards, blank checks, and tax documents.
7. Use a home security system. We purchased a state of the art security system that included door sensors, glass breakage sensors, and motion sensors. All entry and exit points are covered. In addition, we opted for the system that uses a cell phone technology to dispatch the authorities instead of using land-line telephone service. This is important since criminals would only need to cut your phone lines in order to bypass the alarm system and prohibit alarms from being sent to the security company. This isn't the case using cellular technology. It works all the time, even when power lines are cut. These systems aren't as expensive as you might think, and your homeowner's insurance may give you rate discounts for using these security services as well.
8. Talk to your neighbors. This event is really bringing us together. Watch for suspicious activity in your neighborhood. Don't do it just once, do it regularly.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I like BLT sandwiches. One of the people in my lunch meeting commented on a 1/2 pound of bacon BLT while looking at the menu, and I thought it was a joke. It wasn't. I had to see what such a beast looked like, and in order to see it, such a monster had to be ordered. Since no one else wanted to order it...well I won't comment any further.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
I just found out George Lucas created a pretty amazing sci-fi universe known as "Star Wars." Sounds interesting. So I googled the name, and found out this thing is pretty big.
There's a website I found that attempts to rewrite history IF Star Wars was real. There's some pretty good Photoshop skills used here...
[Photos Credit of ISWWR website]