Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting Fit In 2011 With My Friend Brent

So one of my friends, Brent Worley has offered up a Fitness Challenge starting January 2nd ...

We're going to follow the eating plan in the The Abs Diet book ... he just got it recently, I've had it for a couple of years now.

And ...

There's also going to be a daily workout .. he does P90X, and/or Insanity .. I don't think I'm quit there yet, so I'll probably just start with the workout from the book.

The biggest thing for me is, Brent's going to start a FB group, or at the very least a thread on his blog, where those who participate can report in on our progress ... this will definitely help ... in that it adds an element of accountability to the goal ... and that's generally the key missing element for many of us, in any goal setting we do.

So ...

If you're thinking about making a "fitness and/or diet" oriented New Year's resolution, you might want to check out Brent's site (Get Fit With Brent) and consider joining us on his challenge.

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
7

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Record Warm First Day Of Winter!

Last I checked December 21st was the first day of winter. Well, it's currently about 84 degrees at Fort Hood, Texas. Not that anybody's complaining ...



We are currently about 23 degrees warmer than it is at my parent's house .. just north of Tampa, Florida.

This has already been a weird winter, and it hasn't even started yet.

That being said, I'm not going to gloat too much ... this being Texas and all. I'm working in the evenings on Christmas Eve, and Christmas day; and I expect by the time I get off work on the 24th, the wind should be blowing, and the temperature should be dropping pretty good. It will most likely be below freezing by morning.

No chance of snow though.

In fact, with this being a La Nina year, it's entirely possible we won't see snow (or much rain for that matter) all winter long. The long term forecast is warmer and drier than normal for the next 3 months. Judging just by today, we seem to be off to a pretty good start on making that prediction come true.

And on that note, I'm off to throw on some shorts, and maybe wash my car :-D

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
0

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Replacing My Blog's Comments With Facebook Comments

I'm going to try a little experiment here on this blog ...

As of today, I will not be utilizing the wordpress commenting system. I've disabled new comments on all posts older that 1 day, and on any new posts, there won't even be a comment box down there.

Instead, I'm going to use facebook comments. If you're not logged in to facebook, it will look something like this:



If you are logged in, you can just scroll down the bottom to see what it looks like.

So why am I doing this?

Glad you asked ...

Here's the thing, this is a personal blog. Most of the people who regularly comment on my posts are either already my facebook friends; or at the very least, they're people I wouldn't mind becoming facebook friends with. In addition, since I already share all of my posts on my FB wall, many times that's where people leave comments about my blog posts anyway.

So I figured I might as well make it easy for all of you. ;-)

Now instead of separate "like" and "share" buttons, if you want to "like" my post, the button is right there below my signature, at the end of every article. If you have a few thoughts to share, there's a hand little space where you can type away to your heart's content. And, if you really liked what you read, you can even check the little box so that your comment (and a link back to my post) show up right there on Your own FB wall, for all of Your friends to see too.

I'm hoping this will allow me to have better interaction with my existing FB friends ... and also give me the opportunity to meet even more interesting, and like minded people ... heck, if you're commenting on my blog posts, it's quite possible we have some things in common .. what better way to find out for sure than to head on over to your facebook profile to see what your interests are.

One other potential benefit I see from this ...

I expect that Comment Spam will become virtually non-existent here at tmtips.com. Somehow, someway, I still show up on a few of those silly "do follow" blog lists; that invite people to stop by my blog and leave a "comment" that usually has nothing to do with the post, and is really just an excuse to drop a link back to whatever website they happen to be promoting.

I guess it's still possible to "spam" a facebook comment thread ... but the fact that it's not anonymous should provide enough discouragement that I don't expect to be spending too much time moderating.

So what do you think ...

Is this a good idea for The Todd Morris Blog?

Would you consider replacing the wordpress commenting system with facebook comments on your own blog?

Feel free to opine below ...

[todd-sig]
0

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Are Fried Egg Sandwiches The Perfect Meal?



It's cheap, it's quick, and it's easy to make.

From a guy's perspective, those are pretty much the criteria for a "perfect" meal.

Just sayin' ;-)

Seriously though, I love fried egg sandwiches. I make them in the morning when I don't have PT (not fun to run on a full stomach). I sometimes make them as a nice late night snack. And every once in a while, we even have fried egg sandwiches for dinner ... on those nights, I could probably write a whole separate blog post entitled: "how to feed a family of 7 for about $4".

The version of the sandwich that I've been eating lately, I discovered sort of by accident, when I couldn't find the ham in the fridge on day.

And because I sometimes like to share "recipes" here on the blog ...

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Eggs

  • 4 pieces of bread

  • Butter or Margarine

  • 2 slices of roast beef

  • shredded mozzarella cheese



STEPS:


  • Heat up the pan, and spray generously with PAM

  • Put bread in toaster (preferably 4-slice variety), on med-light setting

  • Place roast beef slices on hot pan for about 30 seconds

  • Break two eggs onto the hot pan

  • Turn over roast beef slices and sprinkle with cheese

  • Bust the yokes in such a way that they stay within the cooking egg

  • Butter toast, and place roast beef slices on top

  • Turn over eggs, and cook for an additional 20-30 seconds

  • Place eggs on top of roast beef, cover with other pieces of toast




Enjoy your meal !

Til next time ...

[todd-sig]
0

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why Do Kids Love McDonalds So Much?

image

Justin works at McDonalds.  Every Sunday he is on an 11am to 7pm shift.  Since I have to drive him anyway, it's become kind of a habit for the girls and I to spend a couple of hours every Sunday at the Micky D's Play Place. (Note: it's a nice indoor one here in Killeen). For Jaiden and Jasmine, this is usually one of the highlights of their week.


It's hardly suprising to me.  McDonalds, especially the Play Land, has pretty much been a Morris family "tradition" for as long as I can remember. 


When Justin, Haley were little, their mom worked at the McDonalds in Opp, Alabama.  I would bring a book, buy a large Diet Coke, and sit at a table with baby Haley, while Justin played .. sometimes for hours.  I suppose playland was sort of "daddy's babysitting helper".


Even at that young age (2-3 yrs) Justin knew exactly where we were.  It got to the point, where even when we were travelling, he could spot the golden arches from about a mile out.  Seriously, we'd be driving down the road, and from the back seat would eminate a piercing scream: "DONALDS !!!!!"  .. and sure enough, right around the next bend we'd be greeted by that familliar yellow M.


Now I've seen no evidence that love of a particular fast food restaurant might be hereditary.  That said, I do have some relevant memories from my own childhood.  When I was little, eating out was a treat.  We went maybe once or twice or a month.  Apparently these bi-monthly events had quite an impact on me.  When I was 6 or 7 years old, whenever somebody would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would tell them "Truck Driver" ...


Here's the thing though; I had no particular affinity for trucks, or driving.  I just figured that if I was a truck driver, I'd be able to eat at McDonalds Every Single Day!  :-)


Hope you have a FuN rest of the weekend!


[todd-sig]
2

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Three Books That Helped Me Learn To Play Better Poker

Learn Poker Books

I've been playing poker for something like 7 or 8 years now. Back when I was first learning, we didn't have cool programs like the poker training network; so I turned to books as a way to increase my knowledge, and improve my game.

Here are three books that I found particularly helpful:




  1. Small Stakes Hold 'em
    Winning Big With Expert Play



    This was one of the first poker books that I ever bought. And as it turned out, it wasn't even about the game I was trying to learn. I was playing no limit Texas Hold 'em, and this was a book about Limit Texas Hold 'em.

    None-the-less, I learned some very valuable lessons from this book .. the most important of which was when the "light bulb" went on for me ...

    Poker is about MATH

    My approach to the game has been entirely different ever since the day I came to that realization.

    I would highly recommend this as the first book someone new to poker should consider purchasing. And actually, along those same lines, I'd also recommend that anyone just learning poker (especially on real money sites) should probably start by playing Limit Hold 'em, before they rush off into the "sexier" world of No Limit Poker.


  2. Doyle Brunson's Super System 2
    A Course In Power Poker



    This one is like the "Poker Bible". I really don't know any serious players who haven't read this book. What I like best about it, is that it covers a variety of different games; beyond just no limit hold 'em.

    It may sound a little bit "snobbish", but I think to truly be a "Poker Player" you should be have at least a rudimentary grasp of as many games a possible. For instance, even with the World Series of Poker that's on ESPN all the time, everybody is so concerned with who won the Main Event. But, in my opinion, the real "best player in the world" on any given year is probably the winner of the $50K Eight-Game event.

    So the lesson I got from this book:

    Learn to play more than one game.


  3. Phil Gordon's Little Green Book
    Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Hold 'em



    I've had this book on my shelf for a couple of years. I'm actually re-reading it again right now.

    For me, this book is about the thought process of poker. Reading Phil Gordon's stories has helped me to examine my own game, and think about why I make certain plays, and what my opponents at the table may be thinking when they bet (or don't bet).

    I would consider this to be a "beginner's book". But if you like playing poker, this is definitely a well written little book; and an enjoyable read.



Obviously, I have quite a few other poker books up on my shelf, but as I thought about it earlier this morning, these are definitely the ones that I would say were worth every penny I paid for them.

How about you ...

Are there any poker books that you've read, which had a dramatic impact on your game?

[todd-sig]
0

Can Guys Like Candles Too?

Let me tell you something Todd:

"Chicks Dig Candles"


That's a quote from a conversation that I had with my friend Mike more than 10 years ago, when he was helping his wife with her new candle business, and for some reason felt the need to justify himself to me. I will admit, I was kind of wondering how a guy could credibly market something like candles. At the time, I was still hawking a much more "manly" product ... waterless car wash. But Mike's explanation of why, especially a single guy, might want have some candles around, sort of made sense.

Fast forward a couple of years later ...

I was a divorced guy in my 30s, and I now sold candles. I did a lot of retailing at the time, so I kept a decent sized inventory ... usually at least one of those big bookshelves, filled with a variety of different scents.

Ok, so where am I going with this?

Well, I remember this one evening. I had met a girl, and took her out to dinner. After dinner we decided to stop back a my apartment and watch a DVD. The night appeared to be going well. As we were sitting on my couch watching the movie, I noticed that she would occasionally look around the corner into my dining room, and then glance at me, before returning her attention to the movie.

I finally had to ask ... "is there something wrong?"

So she looks back around the corner, turns to me and says, in a somewhat serious tone of voice:

"You sure do have a lot of Candles ... are you Gay or something?"


LOL, ok, so maybe Mike's advice might not have worked out so well in that particular instance.

Now-a-days, I'm remarried, have two more young daughters ... so I suppose you could say it's a pretty safe bet that I'm a practicing heterosexual.

... but I am still a Guy with a huge shelf full of Candles :-D

[todd-sig]
0

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brrrrrr

I was glad to have my hat, gloves and fleece on the way home this morning.



It was definitely in the low 30s here at Fort Hood this morning ... and it felt every bit that cold. Of course, I can't complain too much, as most of the rest of the country is even colder.

Actually, you know what, now that I think about it, it's pretty darn nice to live in Texas in the winter. Even though it's bit chilly this morning, by later this afternoon, the temperature is supposed to climb up to about 68.

That's darn near perfect. :-)

[todd-sig]
2

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spoon Feeding Baby

At 7 1/2 months, it's time for baby Joey to start taking her meals sitting down, from a spoon.



Apparently, earlier, while taking her afternoon meal; in the manner to which she's been accustomed since she joined us in April; someone almost got dropped on the floor. I didn't catch all the details, but something about "those darn teeth", "ouch", and "that was the last time".

So, as of today, no more "boobie" (or breast feeding for you formal types) for baby Joey.

From now on, she's gonna be a high chair and little plastic spoon kinda girl during the day. And a baby milkshake fan at night.

So far she seems to be taking pretty good to both the spoon and the chair. But to be honest, it's hardly surprising to me. After all, she does have a couple of big sisters who are only too willing to teach her everything they know ;-)



Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
0

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Repurposed Candle

Tonight, I am thankful for my creativity.



That glob of wax you see burning in the picture above used to be one of our Mia Bella 16oz jar candles.

A couple of weeks ago, we decided to have another yard sale, and whenever we have a yard sale, we always have a table of candles set up too. We had a good day. Sold some of our "junk", and a few candles. Well, in the afternoon when it was time to clean up, we were hauling stuff inside to put it back in the closet, when 2 year old Jaiden decided that she wanted to "help" ...

Not surprisingly, she promptly dropped a couple of jars right there on the driveway. Fortunately nobody was hurt. However, a couple of the candles did get nice big crack in their jars ... woops, we won't be selling those.

My first impulse was to just throw those jars away. Then I got an idea ...

I took both of the damaged candles over to the trash can, but instead of throwing them away, I used the curb near the trash can to break away the rest of the glass (lightly tapped to get more cracks, then peeled remaining glass away). I ended up with what was essentially a giant sized votive.

Ana found a bowl, plopped one of the candles in, and lit it up. We've been burning it on and off, almost every day since.

It's really not that big a deal. We've got a bunch a of candles on our shelf, so it wouldn't have been a big stress to just throw the broken ones away. But for some reason, I have a strange sense of pride about seeing the "dead" candle continuing to burn.

Sometimes it only takes something small to make us happy ... today was one of those days.

[todd-sig]
4

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Peek-a-boo

Day one of my new picture a day project (told ya I wouldn't be able to wait).



This first one is pretty easy ...

I'm thankful for peek-a-boo, and tickle monster, and big smiles from little girls who are happy to see their daddy first thing on a Sunday morning.

I appreciate footie jammies, thick wool socks, and the fact that the heater kicked in before I came home.

As for the good stuff, well I think the fried egg sandwiches and chocolate chips waffles that I'm about to make for breakfast should qualify.

And just for good measure, I'm pretty darn happy to be such a lucky guy that it's not even 9am yet, and I've already found so many things to be grateful for ... without even having to "hunt" very hard at all. :-)

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend !
[todd-sig]
0

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hunting the Good Stuff with a Picture a Day ...



Last year, I made a valiant attempt to participate in Project365. It's a flickr group where you agree to post 1 picture a day for an entire year. I made it all the way until June (which is longer than I expected). It was a lot of fun, especially when I was in Iraq, to bring my camera with me every day and take a picture of something interesting. I kind of petered out on it once I got back home, and didn't have as much time to process images, and write blog posts in the evenings. Even so, all-in-all, it was a very positive experience.

So ...

I'm going to try to do a Picture a Day project again for 2011.

But with a twist ...

My picture a day, will also be my "hunt the good stuff".

Every single day in 2011, I'm going to post a picture of, and maybe write a few lines about, something I appreciate, something I'm thankful for, or maybe even something that's just plain "good".

I'm going to hold myself to very few "rules" ... other than doing it at least once a day.

If I have the opportunity to take my Canon dSLR out with me that day, then I'll try to post up some "pretty" pictures. But I'm not going to be tied to the camera. I strongly suspect that quite a few of my daily pictures are going to be snapshots captured with my Android phone ... but that's ok.

There may be some days where I can sit down and write a 500 word post to go along with the picture. Then, there'll also be days where I either just don't have time, or where the picture just speaks for itself.

Either way, the true purpose of the project this year will be to help me make sure I have an entire year of exercising the habit of appreciation; every single day.

If you've got a blog, or even if you just want to post pictures/thoughts to your facebook page every day, let me know ... maybe we can form up a "good stuff" group or something ... to support each other.

Should be FuN! ... lol, and now that I've written about it, I'm not even sure I'll be able to wait until January 1st to start :-)

[todd-sig]
0

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kids Pictures Eighteen Two and Seven Months

It was Justin's 18th birthday today. He's a bit camera shy (like his dad), so there's just the one picture of him.

Justin_18

Fortunately, he's got a couple of much younger sisters who are more than happy to pose for the camera:

Jaiden_Im_Cute_s

Happy_Joey_7mo

Gotta run ... more pictures coming soon

[todd-sig]
0

Sunday, November 28, 2010

How I Fixed My Macbook Pro

I've had a Macbook Pro laptop for about 3 1/2 years now.  It's been a great, reliable computer.  I'd sit down, turn it on, and it would just work .. no fuss, no muss.

About 6 months ago, right after I got back from Iraq, I decided to upgrade the operating system to Snow Leopard, and at the same time install another 1GB of RAM (which I bought at the Fort Hood PX).  Both "operations" were relatively simple, and the system worked great immediately afterward.

Then a couple of months back, I started noticing little things ... for instance, any time I opened a video, the fan would kick on (noisily) and work overdrive until I closed the video.  It also seemed to me that I could hear the hard drive working more often than I had remembered in the past.

A couple of weeks ago, things really started to become serious.  My portable backup drives were not always recognized.  Programs that usually opened right up, were taking much longer (watching the spinning ball while I waited, I almost felt like I was on Windows PC again).  And then worst of all, some files and folders just started not opening, or disappearing all together.

I ran one of the diagnostics programs, and it said something about an extra sector on the volume where I had OS X installed .. and gave me a "hint" to boot from my Snow Leopard dvd, and repair the disk.  Sounds easy enough, I can do that.

Woops ... I can't find my Snow Leopard disk !!!!

The box is right there on the shelf of Ana's computer desk, where I left it.  But the disk itself is nowhere to be found.  Ugh.

Oh well, I was leaving for Philadelphia in two days anyway, and Johnathan has an "extra" laptop that I was able to borrow for the trip.    So the problem got put on hold for 2 weeks.  Oh yea, and while I was in Philly I was able to walk down to the Apple store, and pick up another copy of OS X for $29.00.

A couple of days after I got home, and was a bit settled in, I decided it was time to revive my Mac.

Booted from the DVD, opened Disk Utility, and tried to repair the volume ...

"Disk cannot be repaired ... erase the disk, and reinstall OS X"

Ok, no worries, I've got a 1TB drive with about a month's worth of time machine back ups.

Erased the disk, and rebooted the machine again.   This time I clicked "continue" on the first screen to proceed through the install process.

After about 5 minutes, it just stopped, and I got an error message "could not copy necessary support files"

Ok, I'll just try it again ...

No such luck.  After about 5 failed attempts, I just gave up, and started researching how difficult (and expensive) it would be to replace a Macbook Pro hard drive ... since I assumed that's what the problem was.

I unhooked everything from the computer, turned it off, and planned to put it away in my closet until I could figure out what I was going to do.  Yikes, that closet was a mess though ... better clean it ... and wouldn't you know, up there on the top shelf (where there's no way I could "lose" it) was that copy of Snow Leopard I'd been looking for a few weeks ago.  Oh well, now I've got two.

Now we're starting to get close to the good part though ... how I fixed it (without spending a lot of extra money).

During the time that my Mac was in the closet, and I continued to borrow Johnathan's PC laptop, I remained optimistic that I might be able to find a way to fix it myself ... and avoid the hour each way drive to the nearest Apple Store, in Austin.   So,  I continued to do some research on Internet forums ...

As it turns out, my problem was not all that uncommon among those who were having trouble installing, or re-installing, OS X.

And in the overwhelming majority of examples of people who had overcome this problem, the only thing that worked was replacing their machine's RAM.

I'm game ... can't hurt to give it a try.  What's the worst that could happen?  The computer's already "broken".

So, I found my trusty #0 phillip's head screw driver, popped the battery out,  opened up the memory compartment, and removed that store bought 1GB second stick of RAM.

Now the moment of truth ...

Restart the machine, try to the install process again.

Hey, it's working!

After about 10 minutes or so, I started to become pretty optimistic that I had solved the problem ... and it turns out that I was right.

Then I got another very cool surprise about being on a Mac ...

Even though I had "erased" the disk before reinstalling the operating system, when I opened the Applications folder, ALL of my 3rd party programs (Photoshop, MS Office, MarketSamurai, etc) were still there ... and they still worked !!!

The only minor problem I have left, is that for some of the things I do on my computer (ie, photoshop) I really do need a bit more RAM.   But I'll survive for now, and after we pay off some of the Christmas bills, I probably will take a trip down to the Apple Store, and let them install the additional memory.

So the lesson here ...

If you're on a Mac, it's probably not going to "act up".  But, in the highly unlikely event that it does, that RAM compartment is the 1st place I'd start my investigation ... especially if you bought it from a store that wasn't named "Apple", and installed it yourself.

Hopefully you'll never need to use any of this information I've just written above ... but if you do, I hope you find it helpful.

Til next time ...

[todd-sig]
0

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What Are You Thankful For?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Hunt The Good Stuff. Now I'm a fairly optimistic person to begin with .. but I've found that taking a few minutes at the end of every day to really focus on the some of good things in my life, and all that I have to be grateful for, really does put me in a better mood ... and even more importantly, helps keep my stress level down during those inevitable times when "life" decides to throw a challenging situation my way.

For (too) many Americans, the last Thursday in November is the one day of the year when we actually do consciously "hunt the good stuff", and give thanks for all the blessings in our lives.

Why?

Don't get me wrong, it's awesome that we have a day like Thanksgiving that reminds people to "appreciate".

But ...

Imagine how much more pleasant our world would be if we all did a bit more appreciating every day?

By all means, take this holiday to get together with friends and family, tell people what they mean to you, reflect on what you have, and give thanks for all of the past, present, and future gifts in your life.

Then do it again, Tomorrow, and Next Week, and Next Month ...

There's no reason I can think of that Every Day shouldn't be Thanksgiving.

Now, let's go eat Turkey and watch Football !!!

[todd-sig]
2

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Philly Cheesesteak at Geno's

IMAG0171_edit0

We made our first foray into the Philadelphia cheesesteak wars tonight. One of the guys in the class has a car, so after visiting the Liberty Bell, and Constitution Hall, we decided to take a quick trip South, down Passyunk Ave to try a real Philly cheesesteak. Going on Saturday night might not have been the ideal choice. We ended up waiting in line at Geno's for about 20-25 minutes.

It wouldn't have been much different across the street at Pat's ... look at that line:
IMAG0185_edit0

The waiting really wasn't all that bad though.
IMAG0175_edit0

Along all the walls outside of Geno's are a ton of picture of all the famous and/or otherwise important people (ie, police and military) who've eaten there). Plus as you can see in the picture above, there are big windows all around where you can look in and watch them cook.

We even learned in class how to order properly (so as not to get booted to the end of the line). Here was my order: 1, whiz, wit. translation: 1 steak sandwich, cheez whiz, with onions.

IMAG0180_edit0

We pulled up a curb across the street, near the basketball court and dug in. I guess this is where I get to be a food critic. To be honest, the sandwich was "ok". It was good, but for the price ($8.50 for the sandwich and another $5.50 for fries and a drink) I think I'd just as soon have an O'Charlie's from the food court back home.

That being said, the experience of going to eat at a famous landmark was pretty cool. Even if the food didn't knock my socks off, I'm glad that we got to go, and that now can say I've been there.

I think we're also going to try to get down to Pat's sometime next week, then I suppose I can do a true comparison ... so check back on Monday or Tuesday if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Til then, keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
0

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hunt The Good Stuff

So I've finished 4 days of the Master Resilience Training here in Philadelphia. One more day as a "student", then on Saturday we start learning how to teach it to our guys back home. I had intended to do some blogging about the things I'm learning in the course .. but upon reflection, this is probably not something that would convey well just by reading it on a blog (plus the course is actually copyrighted by University of Pennsylvania).

So, I won't be making daily blog posts this subject.

That said, I did have something that I wanted to share, and it's really kind of in line with things I've already talked about here in the past. It's called Hunt the Good Stuff. And basically all it is is at the end of every day, you have to write down (physically on paper with a pen) 3 good things that happened to you that day; and with each, a sentence or two of reflection (why did this good thing happen? .. What this good thing means to you .. What you can do tomorrow to enable more of this good thing .. What ways you or others contribute to this good thing)

Doing this exercise over time will help you to build your appreciation/gratitude and optimism ... and help to counteract our natural human tendency to spend more time focusing on the negative things that happen. I was even told that doing this right before bed can help you sleep better (because your mind is thinking about "good stuff". It's only been a couple of nights, and it may just be because of my comfy hotel bed, but I've been getting a nice restful 8 hours since I've been here. ;-)

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
0

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Off to the City of Brothery Love

Well I'm on the road again early tomorrow morning. This time, I get to spend two weeks in Philadelphia attending the Army Master Resilience training course. It was kind of short notice, I just found out about it on Thursday ... but this sort of thing sounds right up my alley anyway ... plus if I've ever been to Philadelphia before, it had to have been when I was a kid ... and I don't remember it.

I'm bringing a laptop with me, and the hotel is supposed to have Internet (unlike my trip to FL last month). If the class is interesting, and/or I get out to see some of the landmarks in the area, I'll try to make posts here on the blog as often as I can. I think I'm not going to bring my "big" camera with me. It's such as hassle to lug the camera and lenses on an airplane, so I think I'll just try to make due with my phone ... should I encounter anything picture worthy.

I've already been told that one thing I definitely have to do while I'm there, is check out this Philly Cheesesteak war:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i78BZfqyQB0

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend ... be chatting with you again real soon.

[todd-sig]
2

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back to Camp Blanding Florida

Last summer I spent 5 fun-filled weeks at Camp Blanding Florida doing some predeployment training. Tomorrow morning, I'm going back again ... but this time just for 10 days; and as a facilitator instead of as a trainee. I'm thinking I'll enjoy this next week a bit better than last time.

Anyhow, I also remembered that I never posted any of the pictures that I took last time here on the blog. So, here's a few shots of some of the things that Air Force weather guys, getting trained by Army Infantry soldiers get to experience:

As you can probably guess, we shot a lot of weapons.
M-240

machine gun training

50 caliber

poser with a gun

We also had the chance to throw some hand grenades:
grenade throwing practice

grenade pit

exploding grenade

I probably should have posted this first, but we did also get a whole week or Combat Life Saver training. We were actually the last class that got to do IVs (they don't teach it any more):
bleeding IV needle


When we weren't shooting, or blowing things up or sticking each other with needles, we did a lot of hiking through the woods. Which means we got up close an personal with a few of these guys:
banana spider

I was in training last time, so I didn't really take many pictures. I'm considering taking my camera with my again tomorrow, so I may have a few more to share when I get home.

That said, the Internet and phone situation was pretty bad last time I was there ... and not sure how much it's improved since ... so, I may or may not be posting here and on facebook for the next 10 days or so. lol, as if you'll miss me :-)

[todd-sig]
1

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Feet Quack Me Up



Ok, that's probably not exactly what baby Joey was thinking as we went for a family walk around the neighborhood tonight ... but you gotta admit, it makes for a better headline than "We Went for a Walk" ;-)

It was just an idea to get me up off the computer, and Ana a little bit of exercise. So after dinner, we grabbed a stroller, Jas and Jaiden put on some shoes, and off we went to enjoy the nice cool fall evening. Along the way, we picked up our neighbor and his dog ... who's lease Jaiden got to hold.



A fun time was had by all. Including daddy, who got to take a few pictures :-)



We might just have to make this more of a regular event!

[todd-sig]
3

Monday, October 11, 2010

Texas Spiny Lizard

My wife Ana was over at our neighbor's house this morning, when they called me to come "rescue" them from this little Texas spiny lizard.



It turns out that it was the lizard that needed rescuing.

Apparently Mary Kay's cats had captured the lizard, and brought it into the house. It was obviously injured, but still alive. So I picked up and brought it over to my front yard.

... where of course, I had to take a few pictures. ;-)

I left the lizard out in the yard afterwards, figuring that he'd figure out on his own where he wanted to go.

A little while later, I was going to show Jaiden the lizards, so we went outside, but he was already gone. I thought the story would have a happy ending ... if the lizard was well enough to go hide, that seemed like a good sign.

Until a couple minutes later when Mary Kay knocked on the door.

Apparently the cats had come across the street to my yard, retrieved "their lizard", and were now playing with it in her back yard. So I went and rescued him again.

He's now out in my back yard, in the kids play house ... hopefully he can avoid cats until he has a chance to recover.

He was well still well enough to defend himself, when the cats got him this last time though. When I picked him up this time, he had cat hair in his mouth!

If you look real close at the left side of his mouth in the picture below, you can see the hair. You can also see on his back, where he was injured.



I'll check again later this afternoon. I expect the lizard will be gone again ... hopefully of it's own choice this time. ;-)

[todd-sig]
2

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hawaii Beach Sunset



I think might start a series on this blog called "pictures that are on my wall"

This sunset shot; taken in early 2009 at Paradise Cove, along the south shore of Oahu, was among the last "scenic" pictures I took before we left Hawaii.

... and yes, it is hanging right on our living room wall.

I've honestly never considered selling any of my pictures. But if I ever did, some of the scenery from Hawaii would probably be were I'd start. Not really stressed about it one way or another though ... I take pictures for fun ... and enjoyment.

Speaking of which ... I hope you enjoyed this nice tropical view wherever you happen to be on this fine fall Sunday afternoon.

[todd-sig]
0

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Do You Believe in the Butterfly Effect?

monarch_butterfly_s

Ok, I'll admit the main reason for this post is so that I could share the picture of the Monarch butterfly that landed in our front yard the other day. ;-)

But, it also gives me a chance to talk a bit about the idea that even little tiny changes in our thoughts and attitudes can potentially produce significant differences in the kind of results we get out of life.

Kind of my "positive mindset spin" on the butterfly effect

Napoleon Hill said: "Thoughts are Things"

Every physical thing you see in this world, started as an idea/thought in somebody's mind.

Some people say that our thoughts actually attract things into our lives. And even deeper, the type of thoughts that we have attract like situations and thoughts.

Here's an example you can run on yourself to see what I mean ...

Ever been having a really bad day .. to the point where you can't concentrate on anything else .. and things just seem to be getting worse and worse? And when you ask yourself, what else could possibly go wrong? ... something else inevitably does.

On the flip side, ever notice how most of our best "happy coincidences" usually happen when we've already been having a "good day".

What if our thoughts have something to do with this?

What if thinking good and happy thoughts, actually attracts good and happy things into our lives?

And here's where the butterfly effect comes in ...

What if the thoughts we have right now; which drive the decisions we make today; have impacts that propagate far into our future?

What if even something so seemingly small as the difference between whether we're walking around with a scowl on our face, angry at someone or something, for whatever injustice has been hoisted upon us Today; or whether we've decided to smile and laugh and focus on what's going right for us just Now; could be in some way responsible for where we'll living, or what we'll be doing 5 or 10 years from now?

Now, it's possible that all of this may strike you as just a bunch of hooey pooey.

But why risk it? What if I'm right?

So next time you've got the choice (and btw you always have a choice) to be angry, stressed out, pissed off, etc,. .... Or .... positive, happy, friendly and uplifting, you get the idea ...

Why in the world would you not put a smile on your face?

... just in case. ;-)

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
1

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Love Spaghetti Night



Do have a dinner meal in your family that is kind of the "fall back"? You know, the one that you eat at least once a week ... and the one that invariably provides the answer to the question "hmmm, I wonder what I should make tonight?"

In our family that meal is spaghetti.

As far as I'm concerned, it's pretty darn near the "perfect" meal.

It's easy to make, doesn't cost very much, and everybody likes it.

Plus, the leftovers often taste even better than the night it's first served.

No real purpose to this post.

Just covering my bases in case any of you ever invite me to dinner some day.

If you make spaghetti you can't go wrong. ;-)

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
2

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Retiring and Moving to Florida



Nothing is official yet, but we're pretty much decided that somewhere between this time, and Christmas next year, I'm going to go ahead and retire from the Air Force, and move back to Florida.

We had a great time visiting with family and friends when we were just there for my brother Craig's wedding. And after a bit of contemplation, it just kind of makes sense that it would be much easier to have these sort of visits if we actually live there ... as opposed to having to travel 1200 odd miles.

It also means that instead instead of freezing my butt of in Afghanistan next winter, I'll be able to head over to the beach and see scenes like the one in the picture above ;-)

I don't really mind deploying ... but with young kids, and the fact that this would be the first one that's totally "voluntary" (as in I no longer "have to" be in the Air Force to earn my retirement pay ... I'll have 22 years if I get out next December) ... I just can't really justify going anywhere where other people will be intentionally trying to do me harm. (I am going to stick around Fort Hood long enough, to help make sure my guys/girls who we are sending over there, are well prepared and trained before they leave though).

I'm sure exactly where we're going to live in Florida ... or even what I'm going to be doing for a living by that point. But, we've got a whole year to figure it out ... I trust the universe to plop something good in my path between now an then. :-)

Not really sure what this has to do with anything I normally write about on this blog. But, it does seem like one of the easiest ways to share the news ... and it was a good excuse to post that pretty sunset picture from the beautiful west coast of Florida, that I took about 6 or 7 year ago.

Hope you all have a FuN rest of the weekend!
[todd-sig]
3

Friday, October 1, 2010

How To Be As Happy As A Baby

Joey_counter_s

Living with small children in the house, I'm reminded on a daily basis how simple life really is when you're a baby.

Joey is just over 5 months old, and she has to be one of the happiest little girls I've ever met. She spends a significant portion of her waking hours laughing and smiling at whoever happens to be in front of, or holding her.

It got me thinking. Wouldn't it be great if we could all be that happy, that often?

I wonder what the "secret" is?

Here's a start ...

Babies are Interested in Everything! They're constantly taking in their surroundings; and learning from what they see, hear, smell and taste. They don't prejudge anything. Every minute is an amazing new adventure.

Babies are Not Shy about Showing Appreciation for those they Love! Have you ever seen a baby's eyes light up, and the big smile they get on their face when they look at mommy or daddy? There is never any doubt at all about whether or not your baby is happy to see you. A smiling baby is a happy baby.

Babies love to play with Both their new toys, And their old ones! ... and even better, they have no idea that the toys they don't have yet, even exist. In other words, what they already have, is what makes them most happy.

If a baby is Crying, there's almost always a reason! I don't want you to get the wrong idea, and think that I have some abnormal baby who never cries ... believe me, she knows how to cry. But, 98% of the time, if she's crying, it's because she's hungry, she's tired, she's got gas, or she has a dirty diaper. To the best of my knowledge, she's Never cried because she thinks's she'll be hungry two hours from now; or will poop in her diaper later on tonight.

Ok, now obviously none (or at least very few) of us actually wishes we were a baby. However, I think it's definitely possible to try to apply some of the observations above into our much more complicated adult lives.

Here we go ...


  1. Pay Attention to what's around you! Make an effort to try to notice new things, and/or to look at "old" things in new and different ways.


  2. Tell someone you Love them! Put a big smile on your face while you're saying it. Do it Today! Not only will you be making someone else feel good, but you'll also be benefiting yourself more than you know.


  3. Learn to Appreciate what you Already Have! This one relates directly to one of my all time favorite quotes ... "True Happiness is not Having What You Want .. It's Wanting What You Have"


  4. If you must whine, cry about the Present! As we get older, and we learn more though experience, the world becomes an understandably more scary place. That said, it always strikes me as terribly unfortunate that so many people, spend so much time and energy, worrying and getting upset, about stuff that hasn't even happened yet. As long as you're making it all up anyway, why not simply Smile and Imagine some of the Good things that Might happen in the future?




So what do you think?

Are you ready to be Happy Like a Baby?

[todd-sig]

p.s. BTW, here's what Joey was up to while I was writing this post:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQ6BPWWSMw0
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

We Had Two Birthdays Last Month

I've been a bit lazy about taking pictures lately ... and apparently I also tend to blog much less frequently without the benefit of pictures.

So ...

I'm going to bring back a modified "picture of the day". Here's the trick ... while I'll try to take more pictures, the ones I post here won't necessarily be new. If I have a day where I left my camera at home, I can simply dip into the 10,000+ images that are currently sitting on my little hard-drive.

Today's pictures are actually from last month (see, told ya I've been lazy).

We had two birthdays in August. I took pictures at both events. But for some reason, I just never got around to processing and posting them ... until now ;-)

tinkerbell_cake_s

This first one is the cake that I got Ana for her birthday celebration. It's not polite to tell a woman's age, but I bet you can probably figure it out ;-) Ana has alway been a big Tinkerbell fan ... which as I've stated before is probably appropriate since I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up :-D

Then, about 2 weeks later ...
Jaiden_2nd_bday_s

Jaiden was only turning two (although I honestly can't remember what life was like before she came), so we didn't have a big party. But, we did get a cake, and invite a few of the neighbors over to sing Happy Birthday and eat ice cream. It's pretty cool that this is the first year she's at an age where she somewhat understood what's going on! lol, not sure who was more excited though; Jaiden or Mommy. :-)

More pictures coming soon.

Keep havin FuN!

[todd-sig]
2

Friday, September 17, 2010

Small Children and The Power of Laughter



Some people look at me like I'm crazy when they learn that at 41 years old, among my Seven kids is a 2 year old, and a 5 month old.

It's not surprising. I've heard many parents openly express the thought that small children can drive you nuts.

I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the idea.

However for me, especially lately, my little ones tend to have the exact opposite effect. If anything, having young kids in the house is a bit therapeutic.

Take yesterday, for instance ...

a bit of background: We've got an inspection coming up at work, so the hours are getting longer. My brother's wedding is in a week, so we're getting ready to embark on a plane trip to Florida. And to top off an already stressful week or two, we had a couple of unexpected bills show up.

So not unexpectedly, I arrived home at about 5pm in a bit of a grumpy mood. I was ranting and raving about some silly thing ... and Ana (proving yet again why I love her) was not ranting back, but simply listening (albeit with the obligatory rolling of the eyes). At about what I would have estimated to be the halfway point or so of my little hissy fit, I happened to look in the other room and see Jaiden sitting on the couch ...

I stopped whining, walked into the living room, and announced to Jaiden that I was "the tickle monster".

We spent just about the next 5 minutes or so just laughing, giggling, and taking turns being "the monster".

I eventually walked out of the living room feeling about 200% better than I had just a few short minutes earlier.

I am so thankful that I have kids.

[todd-sig]

p.s. this is not an idea I was unaware of ... in fact, I've even written a blog post about it before ... the concept is called smile therapy
2

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Home Business Does Not Always Mean Online Business

Do you Need a computer to make money from home?

This is a question I've been doing quite a bit of thinking about lately.

Now, obviously I'm sitting here right now at my computer, typing out a post about home business; so my answer has to a best be a qualified "maybe".

That being said, I've had a part-time business for well over a decade. And I really do wonder, would I actually have a bigger bank account right now if I had spend Less Time on the computer over the years?

Primarily because the business model that I chose back in 1999 is Network Marketing, I really do think that the honest answer is Yes.

You see, I'm in the "people business".

And while it's definitely been profitable to learn how to use the right key words to drive traffic to websites; enabling me to meet people from all over the country, and the world ... when you get right down to it, sitting in front of this silly little screen for hours a day, is just not the most effective way to help other people (which is really my "job description") who are trying to solve this "work at home" puzzle.

... and besides, it's also not always conducive to a happy and healthy family life. (even my two year old knows that the place you're most likely to find dad is "at the puter")

Here's the thing we sometimes forget ... the computer / the Internet is just a Tool ... it's not a business building method.

So what's the solution?

Exactly what you might think ...

Get up off the computer, and spend more time getting out, and going where the people are!

Of course, I've had a goal for a long time now of trying to spend an hour a day or less on the computer. Unfortunately, it's worked about as well as my other long-term goal of cutting back on caffeine (I love my Diet Mountain Dew).

Here's the thing though ...

I now have just over 3 years until I have to retire from the Air Force, and I really, really, really don't want to have to look for another job. Building my home business primarily on the Internet has worked moderately well over the past few years, but if I'm totally honest it's just not gotten to me to the point where I can say goodbye to the military (according to my original goal from 9 years ago, I should have been out last December ... I was in Iraq at the time instead).

So, I'm going to go back to something that I know works.

When I first started my marketing business over a decade ago, I attended weekly meetings, and almost all of my partners lived within about 10 miles of me. Not only was it a good way to make extra money ... but it was also a lot of FuN!

I spend a lot of time sitting in front of this computer, and other than when I'm playing poker, I honestly wouldn't describe most of my online time as great fun. Don't get me wrong, I love my online friends, but I also really enjoy interacting with "live" people ... I need to do more of it.

Here's something unique to our modern society that I've often pondered ...

How is it that people can have thousands of "friends" on their computer, but if you asked them to tell you the first names of the couple who lives two doors down, you'd more often than not be greeted with a blank stare?

I don't ever want that blank stare to be coming from me. I'd rather be part of the solution, than part of the problem. **thankfully I've got a very social wife ... so we really do know all of our neighbors**

But when it comes to building our home business, I now have a new goal ... and we all know that goals are more powerful when you share them publicly. So here it is ...

By June of 2011, I will have at least 10 new partners who live close enough to me that we can get together and talk, in person, at least once a week. In addition, for any of my partners who I've met (or will meet) here on the Internet, who wish to pursue the same goal, I'll commit to doing all I can to support them as they work towards sponsoring people in their local area, and starting weekly home meetings.

It's going to mean less time online ... and the time I do spend will have to be much more focused, and productive.

But don't worry, I'll still be writing here on my blog (about any topic that pops into my head) ... and since I can get facebook on my phone, I'm sure I'll still "see" most of my cool online friends every day too.

So what do you think ... am I barking up the right tree?

[todd-sig]
7

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How To Make A Custom Facebook Welcome Page

Ok, so you want to make a Free custom landing page for your Facebook fan site, huh?

Well, here are a few prerequisites:


  • You know at least a little bit of basic HTML/CSS

  • You have access to some sort of image editing program (ie photoshop)

  • You have your own webhosting account, or other place from which you can link to images

  • You're a somewhat creative person with a bit of extra time on his/her hands



Even if that description above doesn't sound like you, all is not lost. There are some pretty cool Facebook page builders starting to pop up. Something like pagemodo.com looks like it's probably a great solution for most people ... I was actually going to use it build my page ... but then I remembered that I'm way more adventurous than that! :-D


So for any brave souls who didn't click the pagemodo link, and are still reading this ...

Here are some step by step directions for how I built my first custom facebook fan page


  1. Go into the "edit" section of your page, and create an FBML tab


  2. Click on "edit" the FBML and you will be brought to a box where you can enter a title for your box, and some code to show up on your welcome screen


  3. You can add some CSS and even "old school" HTML (the template I "cheated" off of used tables) to give your page some structure. For some strange reason I was always under the impression that FBML was something new I'd have to learn (and for more advanced stuff it is) ... if I had known that I could make a basic page using just the HTML that I already understand, I would have done so long ago.


  4. I used images (which I created in photoshop, and uploaded to my web hosting account) for my page's header and footer. The important thing to remember here is that (as of tomorrow), your entire box can only be 520 pixels wide ... so that's the width that you should make your header and footer images. This the part of the project that probably requires the most "technical" skills. If you're not a photoshop person, it's not terribly hard to find someone on the Internet who can make these images for you ... if you're reading this post, and you need help, you can even hit me up if you'd like .. no guantees, but it's possible we may be able to work something out.


  5. The last step, after you get your page looking like you want it, is to go into your "wall settings" and use your drop down menu to make your new tab the "default landing tab for everyone else".



And that's it. Now obviously, there are a lot more cool things that you an do with these landing pages; especially if you want to get into the actual FBML code (which really doesn't look all that complicated) .. but just a basic landing page should be doable for most even moderately technically inclined people.

Oh yea, and for those who really want to take the easy way out, and just have a snazzy looking "welcome" tab (but with not additional functionality) you can just create a single image say 520px wide, by 800px high ... it could even include a screen capture of your blog or website.

I guess my main point of this whole article, is that it's not nearly as hard as it seems to be!

Til next time ...
[todd-sig]

p.s. sorry it took me so long to get this "tutorial" published .. I actually started on it almost 2 weeks ago, right after I made that black hoodie page .. but then, as it wont to happen from time to time, I got caught up in other projects .. anyhow, it's here now .. I hope you find it helpful. ;-)
4

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My First Custom Facebook Fan Page

I've made facebook fan pages before, but never really did anything with them. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I was a bit intimidated by FBML (facebook markup language). And now that I've made my first custom designed landing page, I'm more even more ashamed that it took me so long.

If you know basic HTML, you can easily use the Static FBML tab on your facebook fan site to make a unique landing page.

Here's a screen shot of the page that I made:


Or, if you want to see the page "in person", just follow this link:
Plain Black Hoodie on Facebook

... and while you're there, if you feel the desire to click the "LIKE" button, I'd be most appreciative. ;-)

I built this fan page to support one of my niche blogs Plain Black Hoodie ... which btw, is a pretty good example of relatively simple, and low traffic website, that actually makes pretty good money. This new facebook page, and a new twitter account is part of my strategy to increase the traffic, (and hopefully with it the profits).

But anyhow, I digress ...

Look for another post in the next day or two, with a basic tutorial on how you too can make a custom facebook landing page. (I would write it tonight, but I have a poker tournament starting in like 3 minutes). Seriously though, there are people charging literally hundreds of dollars to teach people how to make facebook fan pages ... I'm here to tell you, if you any type of web design experience/knowledge, you don't need to spend that sort of cash. It's honestly not that hard.

So ...

Check back soon, for the fan page tutorial ... and while I'm at it, I might even write up a simple niche blog tutorial (and how monetize it with ebay partner network).

On that note, I have to run (cards are being dealt). Hope you have a great weekend!

[todd-sig]
11

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ironic T-Shirt Alert



Ok, so I picked this t-shirt up at Walmart the other day. It was on the sale rack, and when I got up to the cashier to get my items rung up, it turned out to only be $3 ... I'm quite the bargain hunter lately.

Even better than that, it matched the pair of light blue shorts that I also bought that day (even though I had no intentions of getting clothes when I walked though the Walmart entrance ... funny how often that happens).

Anyhow ...

All is good, until I'm sitting here at my computer today, reading my twitter stream, and seeking out interesting new people to follow on twitter.

Suddenly it hits me that there might be just a tab bit of irony in my choice of "uniform" for this particular activity. :-D

Happy Wednesday!

[todd-sig]
7

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Over Tired Toddler

181.365_over_tired_toddler

It seems almost counter-intuitive, but Jaiden is always much harder to put to bed at night when she did NOT get her nap during the day. And I have good evidence that it's not just her, as all of my other kids were the exact same way. In fact, I'm not sure there's a more difficult person in the world to deal with than an over-tired toddler ... ok, maybe ex-wives; but that's a whole separate blog post. ;-)

Jaiden hasn't quite gotten to this stage yet, but one of my "favorite" things I remember my other two girls doing when it was bed time, and they were too tired, is the blubbered words that just don't match the scene ...

Cry along with me: "IIIII'mmm Nnnnoootttt Ttttiiirrreed" ... while rubbing their little red eyes, and trying to keep them open.

My current toddler is still just at the point where she rips all the sheets off her bed, and throws her baby dolls (and most of the rest of her toys) over the gate at her door, before finally giving in and falling to sleep ... usually either on the floor, or sometimes even sitting up on her little couch.

Now, when she's not over-tired, it's a completely different story ... and almost as funny ... I really need to get a video one night; but for now a description will have to do.

When it's time for bed, we tell "nigh-night" to literally everybody.

Imagine ...

"nigh-night mommy"
"nigh-night baby"
"nigh-night doggy"
"nigh-night tv"
"nigh-night juice"
"nigh-night chair"

etc., etc.,

Except when I get her up to her room and ask if she's got a "nigh-night" for daddy?

No matter how good a mood she's been in up til this point, I invariably get a "no" in answer to this question, and usually a "talk to the hand" when I try to lean over to give her a kiss.

It's all good though ... she'll appreciate me one of these days. :-D

[todd-sig]
5

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My MacBook Pro Dual Monitor Mashup

[caption id="attachment_1990" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="My setup - MacBook Pro, 20in HP monitor, Apple bluetooth keyboard"]macbook pro dual monitor[/caption]

I hooked myself up with a dual monitor setup yesterday, and as I was putting everything in it's place on the desk, I was struck by how little brand loyalty I seem to have. Here's what's on my desk ...

  • MacBook Pro laptop

  • 20" HP widescreen monitor

  • Apple bluetooth keyboard

  • Microsoft Mouse

  • Maxtor portable hard drive

  • i rocks card reader

  • Canon headphones

  • Lexmark Printer (out of the picture)



... oh yea, and also out of the picture is my Android phone

It's probably not what the salesman at the store would have set me up with, but it works for me.

The laptop itself is over 3 years old now. I recently upgraded to the operating system to Snow Leopard, but otherwise the only real signs of age are few smudged letters on the keyboard ... which is actually part of the reason that I picked up the bluetooth. I expect it to last at least another 2 years or so.

I got a new desk yesterday, which I'd been needing for a while. I'm really not sure how long this one is going to last (probably not as long as the Macbook). It's totally cheap! But, it was the only one in the store that had the exact set-up I wanted ... with both monitors up on a shelf, and just the keyboard and mouse down on the desk itself.

The widescreen monitor is also new ... but it was totally on sale! (sometimes I shop like a girl) Don't get me wrong, it would have been cool to get one of those Apple Cinema monitors. However, it would have cost at least 2-3 times as much as the HP I got ... and to be honest I'd have a hard time believing the picture would be even 2x better. This one is pretty nice.

I've run a duel screen monitor set-up with my MacBook before (when I was in Iraq). This time I did something a little different, in that I made the new 20" monitor the "primary", and the laptop screen is now my second monitor off on the right side. I usually use that second screen for something like Tweetdeck, or if I want to read while I'm playing poker, I'll put the table over on that screen and keep my browser here on the main monitor. I do have to give some props to the Mac: switching around the monitor positions, changing resolutions, and even deciding which one will be primary (you just drag the bar from one to the other) is about 10x easier than any dual monitor setup I've ever attempted with Microsoft computers at work.

Speaking of Microsoft though, even though I've used a Mac for 3 years now, I still haven't been able to give up my Microsoft mouse. I was almost tempted to get one of the new Magic Mouses yesterday ... but the Apple pricing put on a pause on it ... the mouse cost the exact same price as the keyboard (which wasn't at all cheap either). One of these days I'll take the plunge; just not today.

Well, that's my set-up. And as my wife would point out, this is where I spend quite a bit of my time when I'm home, I suppose it's important to be comfortable and happy ... lol, although what would make me really happy is one of those cool massaging chairs (hint hint if you're reading this Ana).

On that note, I hope you're all having a fun Saturday.

[todd-sig]
5

Friday, July 23, 2010

Less Marketing More Networking

[pullquote]How do we go about standing out from the crowd in our overly commercialized society?[/pullquote]

For over a decade now, I've always had some sort of part-time business to help supplement my military paycheck. Over the years, we've obviously had some "up" months, and some "down" months; but all-in-all it turns out that I'm actually relatively good at what I do. ;-)

Which is why it's kind of tough to admit that for the past year or two, I've been in a bit of a "funk" when it comes to my home business. I've "tried" various new methods of making "more" money; in addition to (or more often at the expense of) things that I already know (based on past success) work well.

Even worse, for some reason lately, I just can't seem to make a decision and stick to it for any significant length of time.

I've been racking my brain trying to figure out what the problem might be.

Then it hit me ...

I've been focusing Too Much on the Money, Not Enough on the People

In other words, as the title of this post alludes to ... I let myself turn into more of a marketer, and less of a networker.

And what's really messed up about it is ...

I know that's the exact opposite of what works best (at least for me).

Here's the thing ...

In today's "go go go" world, we are literally inundated with marketing messages; from the time we wake up in the morning, until our heads hit the pillow at night. Unless you're really good at it, it's kind of hard to stand out.

and beyond that ...

It sometimes doesn't even feel all that good to be contributing to the deluge.

So ... is there are better way?

Why yes, there is, I'm glad you asked.

It's really so simple, and something I've known about for so long, that I'm almost wanting to bang my head against a wall for letting myself drift away from it ...

Stop Worrying about HOW to Make More Money

It's more "fulfilling" (and actually easier for most people) in the long run to instead focus on building more (and better) Relationships.



  • Help other people, just for the sake of helping them.



  • Do "good deeds", and trust that Karma will take care of making sure "you get yours".



  • Create ... or more specifically, EARN, an army of "Raving Fans".





And here's the best part ...

The bigger your army of Raving Fans (people who Know, Like, and Trust you) grows ... the more you'll find that the "money" part just Tends to Take Care of Itself. [pullquote] You can have anything you want in life, if you just help enough other people get what they want
~ Zig Ziggler
[/pullquote]

These are a few things I know to be true.

But let myself forget.

So, the real moral of this post ...

Don't be a "dummy" like Todd

Quit looking at your bank account (no matter how big or small it may be at the moment).

Just Get Out There and Start Earning that Army of Raving Fans !!!!

Till next time ...

[todd-sig]
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Our Day at the San Antonio Riverwalk

SanAntonio_map_s Even though we've lived in Texas for over a year now, we just made our first visit down to San Antonio earlier this week. I had to run Jonathan and Jasmine down to the airport anyway, so they could catch a flight to Reno, to visit their aunt and grandparents. Over the weekend, we decided that it might be a fun idea for all of us to go down; since I had put in for two days of leave anyway.

We drove down on Monday afternoon, via the "scenic route" ... we went over to Lampasas, then took Hwy 281 South, almost all the way to the San Antonio airport. Along the way, we drove through a couple of interesting little small towns, including Marble Falls (which is a place we plan to visit again when we have time to stop and explore).

After we dropped the kids off for their flight, we stayed the night at a TLF (or "family room") at the Lackland AFB billeting. At only $41.50 for the night, it was only about 1/2 as much as any of the hotels in town ... plus we had a refrigerator and kitchen so that we could make breakfast in the morning. After a quick jaunt down to a nice little Italian restaurant, and a pop into Walmart for supplies, we got a good night sleep that we could enjoy our sightseeing on Tuesday.

Ana and the girls in front of a fountain at Lackland AFB billeting
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A colorful little bench outside our room
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We checked out of our room and headed downtown at a little before 11am on Tuesday. We put the address for Ripley's Believe it or not; 300 Alamo Square into the GPS and set off on our 20 minute drive. The GPS took us through some "interesting" parts of town, but eventually we reached our objective ... and then spent another 15 minutes looking for parking. We actually drove past the Alamo 3 times .. I felt a little like Chevy Chase in European Vacation .. "looks kids there's the Alamo". Eventually we found a lot, and paid $8 for the day.

Ana and Jaiden outside The Alamo
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We spent about 30 minutes or so at The Alamo. I actually didn't even go inside. We had the big double stroller, and it would have been too much of hassle to get the baby out, and then worry about leaving it outside. So, while Ana and Jaiden toured the inside, Joey and I found a bench out back near a fountain that appeared to be dedicated to Davy Crockett:

Joey grabbing a nap at The Alamo
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Jaiden checking out the Davy Crockett fountain
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On our way to the River View Center Mall; which turned out to be the most convenient place for us to get down to the river walk, we stopped along a little street so Ana could have her picture taken next to a cigar store indian chief:

Ana, Joey, and the Indian Chief
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After stopping off at the Disney store, and another little shop where we bought some t-shirts, it was time to make our way down to the riverwalk itself ...

this is near the food court at the River View Center mall
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We ended up staying down at the river walk for almost 3 hours, with just a quick stop for lunch at the Lone Star Cafe ... which btw is one of the better bargains of a restaurant I've been in anywhere in Texas; let alone right in the middle of a tourist destination. The special that day was $5 for all-you-can-eat boneless fried chicken, with mashed potato and corn.

After lunch, we spent the rest of our time there taking pictures along the river walk, as we slowly made our way back towards the car.

looking down the river, in the direction we were heading
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a little bridge over the river walk (wish the bridges didn't all have stairs .. not fun with a double stroller)
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looking across the river at the outdoor seating for the Hard Rock Cafe
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tour boats ... which we will probably try to go on next time if we don't have the big stroller
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and finally, a view looking back down at the river walk from up at street level
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We ended up heading back home in the early afternoon, and that's where I made one of the few "mistakes" of our trip ... we decided to take I-35 home, instead of going back up 281 ... and we were rewarded by what should have been a totally expected traffic jam in Austin:

stuck in Austin rush hour traffic
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Oh well, next I'll know better.

All in all, it was a fun (and relatively inexpensive) little overnight trip. I expect that we'll probably do it again soon.

[todd-sig]
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