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!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

The 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


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.


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

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 ...


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

A colorful little bench outside our room

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

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

Jaiden checking out the Davy Crockett fountain

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

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

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

a little bridge over the river walk (wish the bridges didn't all have stairs .. not fun with a double stroller)

looking across the river at the outdoor seating for the Hard Rock Cafe

tour boats ... which we will probably try to go on next time if we don't have the big stroller

and finally, a view looking back down at the river walk from up at street level

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

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.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Firework Pictures from the Fort Hood Freedom Fest

We had a fun 4th of July neighborhood BBQ today. Lots of food, good conversation, and kids running up and down the block. And then when the sun went down, of course it was time to take some fireworks pictures.

I didn't actually go over to the freedom fest, as I can see the firework pretty good from the balcony on the back of our on-post housing. I pretty much followed my own advice about how to take fireworks pictures ... I used a tripod, focused manually, stopped down to F11, and let the shutter stay open for 3.2 seconds per shot.

Here a few of the shots I came up with ... hope you like em. ;-)













Til next time ...


Saturday, July 3, 2010

My First Android Phone – MyTouch 3G Slide

184.365_my_touch_3g_slide We finally broke down and got new smart phones from t-mobile. Ana has had her heart set on the mytouch 3g slide ever since she saw that silly commercial on the tv about being able to talk your text messages. As for me, I really wanted to wait until the new Samsung Vibrant comes out later this month, but in the end I just didn't have enough patience. Plus, after thinking it over, this phone, with the physical keyboard, is actually probably more my "style" anyway (I had a sidekick for about 3 years). And, just as a kicker, while I'm sure the Samsung is going to be a way cool phone, the little voice in the back of my head was screaming something about "never buy the 1st generation of any new phone" (the ones we got are the 3rd phones in the mytouch line).

I don't really have too much in the way of a "review" to report just yet, as the phones have literally only been out of the boxes for a couple of hours. But so far, we are only mildly frustrated (which is less than I expected), and have each uttered a couple of "oh that's cool"s.

Figuring out exactly how to set up the contacts may take a few days. I do have one bit of advice though, if you have a lot of facebook and/or gmail contacts, consider whether you really want every single one of them on your new phone, BEFORE you hit the button to sync your accounts. :-)

I've only downloaded a couple of apps so far ... wordpress, photoshop, IMDB, and Calvin & Hobbes. But my "favorite" so far, is one that I found for my wife that has about 200,000 free ringtones. That right there is going to save me $5 or $10 a month because she won't be buying them from t-mobile any more. :-)

Anyway, I'll come back to this post and update it as I learn more about the phone.

In the mean time, if anyone has any advice or stories (especially about Apps I might want to try), please feel free to share in the comments.

Thanks ...


Friday, July 2, 2010

Jasmine The Birthday Girl

180.365_jasmine_8_bday Tuesday was Jasmine's 8th birthday. We didn't have a huge party this year. It was pretty much just family, and a few of her friends.

The "non-party" started when I got from from work that afternoon. I'd stopped by the Anthony's Pizza over at the Fort Hood PX, and took advantage of their 3 large one-topping pizzas for $21 deal. (note: with our large family, this is our default for "eating out"). Earlier in the day, Ana had stopped by and picked up the cake from the wife of one of my co-workers. As you can see, it was a tinkerbell cake, and it came out looking (and tasting) really good. Due to some mis-communication the cake was slightly smaller than we'd expected, so in the end it was probably a good thing that we didn't invite 15 or 20 kids.

As for presents ...

Jas had a bit more of a "grown up" birthday this year. Todd got her a couple of books ... one of which, "Green Egss and Ham", she can actually read to her sister ... and mommy took her to the nail salon for a manicure/pedicure, from where Jas came home with painted and decorated finger and toe nails!

We also learned a good lesson about presents this year (that we really should have already known). We'd asked Jasmine several times what she wanted for her birthday, and never really gotten any solid leads. Well, on Monday, I'm talking to my son Justin, and he says "what are you getting for Jasmine tomorrow? .. it better be roller skates". Apparently she'd been telling Justin for weeks "roller skates is the only thing I want for my birthday".

lol ... so now we'll be looking for roller skates too I guess.

It's already worked out ok for her on the present front though, as my parents drove up from Florida to see the baby before she gets too big, and of course they brought more presents for Jas ...