So believe it or not, there are other people out there with the name "John Hurlbut". Yep, it's true. One of them calls himself "Wheels". I'm not exactly sure why, but he does. He's an audio engineer from Canada. He and I regularly vie for #1 in Google rankings for "John Hurlbut". He's even listed on IMDB for doing some audio work for a few films (So I guess he's more famous, but curently I hold the #1 spot on Google!). Anyway, he recently took 7 months off work and traveled the world for Ultimate Frisbee tournaments. Cool. He put together a DVD of his trip and all the segments are available on his website. Pretty cool stuff. I'm insanely jealous. Not necessarily of the frisbee tournaments, but of the travel.
Video tour of 13907 174th St. Ct. E, Puyallup, WA 98374
Here is my first video tour for your viewing pleasure. I shot about 5 minutes of video of this home and surrounding neighborhood and edited it down to just under 3 minutes. I used Adobe Premiere Elements to capture and assemble the video. Most of the video was underexposed thanks to yours truly not really understanding exposure, but Premiere Elements "Highlight and Shadows" effect really cleaned it up and brought out the details. Once the video was assembled, I exported it to Windows Media format, and from there I used the Adobe Flash 8 Video encoder to create an FLV (Flash Video) file. From now on, I'll use Premiere Pro as I can export directly to FLV from there. It'll save me a step and a WHOLE lotta time!
Once I have my new microphone, I can start doing voice overs, but for now, this works.
A good addition to my stable of services offered to Sellers. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think.
So in getting ready to do Video tours, the preferred format for video on the web (thanks to Youtube!) is Flash. So I've been experimenting with putting together some Flash video of footage I shot with my camera last summer. This is our dearly departed puppy dog, Princess. We miss her dearly and I do wish I had shot some more video before she passed. This was her favorite activity, chasing rocks. And peeing. We love you Princess.
So in keeping with my goal of being one of the most technologically advanced real estate agents in the puget sound, I've decided to start podcasting. My idea is to do a monthly (eventually weekly) podcast titled "The Western Washington Real Estate Update". Along with that, will be a blog of the same title. Both will be hosted on my Hurlbuthomes.com website. I've been researching the process of podcasting and think I have the basics down. I've also been researching equipment and it seems as though the most important piece is the microphone. So going to my favorite audio/video gear site, B&H Photo Video (Thanks Fergus for turning me onto that site so many years ago!), they have a number of podcasting kits. I've finally settled on their kit for windows. It comes with the Samson C01U microphone, some audio technica headphones, Feed For All software for posting your podcast, and Sony's Sound Forge software for recording and mixing the podcast. In addition, it comes with a Captain FX CD with tons of sound effects, etc. Not that I think I'll actually use that, but who knows, it may be kind of fun. :-) I also added a MZZZ Music CD with a bunch (200?) of Royalty free music to keep my shiz-nit legal and all. The music CD will be good for background music for the video tours I want to start doing for all of my listings too. And the microphone will come in handy for voice overs on those. I think it'll be a fun little project. Hopefully someone will like what I have to say and actually give me a call! We'll see . . .
I'll post links here when I have the blog and cast up and running.
OK, well since I've put it all out there leading up to the event, I guess I should give the outcome eh? So starting on Tuesday evening I took Visicol. I've linked that to WebMD that will tell you what Visicol does. Let's just say that it works as advertised. The ritual was 4 tablets (not small!) every 15 minutes starting at 6PM and ending with the 7PM dose. 20 tablets in all. As it messes with kidney function, 8oz of water is recommended with every dose. So that kept me busy most of Tuesday evening. Yesterday morning, starting at 11AM, another 3 doses of Visicol was required. Now keep in mind that I had not eaten since 8AM on Monday. By this time, my stomach had gone way past being hungry. Keeping hydrated really kept me from feeling too bad though. It's amazing how much your body doesn't need food.
So around 1:45, Teri picked me up and we headed for the Tacoma Endoscopy center off 6th Ave. We arrived around 2:30 and I checked in. They immediately took me back and I got one of those cute little robes. You know the ones that show your modesty? They took my BP (REALLY HIGH!, Guess I was nervous) and my temp and put an IV in. The nurse explained that during the procedure, I would be mostly asleep. They call it a twilight sleep. She said most people snore and aren't really aware of what's going on. They can respond to questions, but other than that, don't really have a clue. She also explained that during the procedure, the doctor puts air into your intestine and that it is acceptable and even preferred that when you're in recovery to get as much out as possible. Again, if this is TMI, don't click the more link . . . (more)
OK, I am the biggest of Adobe fans, I really am. I've used nearly every product they produce. And I use many of them on a daily basis in my Real Estate business . . . Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Flash, etc. However, I'm not so big as to admit when Adobe doesn't do something as good as the little guy. So I have a new listing, it happens to be my next door neighbor's home. We're good friends and I'm bummed to see him leave. So yesterday I was putting together his virtual tour. It was the first time I had ever attempted to do a photo stiched panorama shot with my new Nikon D80. So I brought all the pictures into Photoshop CS2 and used the photomerge function. Well the result was less than spectacular. All the photos on the right and left lined up perfectly, but the 3 or 4 in the middle (showing my neighbor's home) were horrible. I even used a tripod for the first time. Even with my PS editing skills, it would have taken me all day to try to fix the panorama. My option was to reshoot the whole thing. Then I started looking around on TourFactory's site (where I host my virtual tours) and saw that their recommended program was PhotoVista 2.0. I quickly googled and found PhotoVista Panorama 3.0. There was a free trial, so I downloaded it. I brought all the photos (10) into the program and hit preview. For one thing it only took about 3 seconds to generate a preview. The preview looked just about perfect. I could see one or two spots where it wasn't aligned perfectly, but it was SOOOOO much better than what Photoshop had done. I hit the "Stitch" button and it went to work. Now each of these pics are a 10MP JPEG, and photoshop took about 1/2 hour to compose it. (Mostly because my laptop is nearly 5 years old and about to die) PhotoVista took a mere 2 or 3 minutes. And the results are much better. This will be well worth the $60.00 to purchase the program.
You'll want to click on the "Street Scene" tab to see what I'm talking about. There is also a panorama of the back yard. Each panorama is indicated by a "dot" on the tab. Anyway, thought I'd share that yes, even I, found something that works better than an Adobe product. Sorry PS team, but you should make Bruce buy this company and use this in place of your Photomerge. :-)
OK, so it begins . . . the steady march to 4PM Wednesday. I started my liquid diet today. I did have breakfast, which I think was kind of cheating. They say the full two days before your procedure, you're supposed to have a liquid diet. Well, I figure if my procedure was at 8AM, the rules would still be the same. I think they really mean 48 hours is sufficient. But by 4PM Wednesday, I will have gone 56 hours without a bite of solid food. Had I not cheated this morning, it would have been more like 64. Right now it seems like a long ways away. For "dinner" tonight, I had a box of beef broth. MMMMMM. So looking at the box, it has 15 calories per serving. 4 servings per box. So I had a whopping 60 calories for dinner. That's probably a good 940 calories less that I normally would have. But I suppose thinking about it all the time isn't going to make me feel more full. Ah well, c'est la vie. 42 hours to go. By the time I get up tomorrow, it'll be like 32 hours. Piece of cake. Right? Beuller? Tomorrow evening starts the fun stuff. Starting at 6PM, every 15 minutes, I take 4 pills with 8 ounces of water. I do that for an hour and a half. That's supposed to ahem . . . clean you out. And if it doesn't completely, another 3 rounds of that 2 hours before my procedure will do the trick. Oh joy . . . But the good news in all this is that by Wednesday after my procedure, I should be well under the 320 mark again. LOL! I think this is probably too much information, but hey . . what are you going to do huh? It's a part of life. So kids, when your grandmother hands you another Twinkie, turn it down. You seriously don't want to go through this stuff when you're in your 30's. Take it from me. I'm paying pennance for all the "one more slice won't hurt" and all the "triple scoops" I've had in my day.
Having recently gotten back inot bicycling, I was interested to see a new trail opened last weekend in Pierce County . . . the Scott Pierson trail from downtown Tacoma to Gig Harbor. Pretty cool little route. Maybe a little too industrial for my tastes, but I'm always happy to see new trails opening up and old ones expanding. I can't wait for the Orting trail to join up with the Interurban in Auburn and then eventually (Pending Wilkeson resident's approval) all the way to Mount Rainier. That would be a ride! Southcenter to Mount Rainier . . . whew!
Location: Sumner, Pierce, Washington, United States
Activity: Road Biking
Distance: 29.44 (mi)
Today I was able to connect with Chuck at the Meeker trail head and we waited for Brandon and Steve who were riding from the Auburn super mall. They showed up a little after 8:30 and we all headed out. Having only arrived home at 1AM this morning, I was a bit tired. I really felt the first 5 miles or so until my legs got sufficiently warm. After that we settled into a nice little groove. The "hill" at just under 10 miles isn't very big, and certainly isn't very long. But man my legs are just not conditioned for hills. Not that I had to walk it or anything, but looking at my Garmin, my heart rate shot up to 170 bpm. I thought I might stroke out or something. OK, not really, but after the hill, I slowed down to about 12 MPH to catch my breath and then kicked it up a notch (BAM!) to catch back up with the group. We stopped in South Prairie for about 25 minutes to rehydrate and refuel. Then it was back down. We hit 27 - 28 MPH a couple times on the way back. With about 4 miles to go, I looked at my Garmin and realized we had a shot at getting back to the Meeker trail head in just under 2 hours. I mentioned this to the group and the pace quickened a bit. At about mile 26, I pulled in behind Steve for a little drafting action and we kicked it up to about 25 for a bit. That was cool. According to my Garmin, when we hit the Meeker trail head, we were at 1:59:11 . . . WOO HOO! Last week, riding the route alone, I did it in 2:06:29 . . . so shaved about 7 minutes off my time. Not too shabby! I'm good with that! Anyway, here's a link to the ride.
Click on Map Below to view full details at Motionbased
Have you ever felt like you have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)? When I did my Heritage Profile through Buffini and company, one of the comments I got from the person that reviewed my profile is "You're not a starter, but once a project is started, you grab on and finish it." So lately I've been having trouble getting projects off the ground and completed. I have so many things that I want to do that it's hard to pick one to start with. Here's a brief example of some of the things I want to do:
I want to start producing video tours for my listings. I have the video camera, but I need to research creating flash video and posting that to my site.
I want to start a monthly podcast on my real estate site, with evenutally doing a weekly podcast. So I'm researching hardware now to set up my "studio" and reading about where and how to post it.
I want to have a client login section on my real estate site so my clients can logon at any time and view all their paperwork, and see a calendar of how their transaction is progressing.
I need to get some sort of security up on the forms on my real estate site to prevent them from being used by spammers. Likely going to be some sort of a captcha solution.
I have a great new digital camera for taking photos of client's homes, etc. But I want to go beyond the Auto setting and really learn about photography so I can really do a good job for them.
On that same thread, I'm researching HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging. Really need to figure out how to use the camera fist
I've been researching SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so when I do get all this good stuff on my site, people will actually find it and maybe it can help me generate some business
On the personal side, I want to get my bicycling up to the 50 - 70 Mile range so I'm not dead on the Dam2Dam in September
I need to buy my first investment property to begin my quest of getting out of the rat race. Quit analyzing and jump in.
And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head. I've got a TON of ideas floating around, it's just figuring out which ones are the most important and worth focusing time on. All that to do plus trying to keep my lovely wife happy and still providing the top notch service I pride myself on to my clients. Ahhh, if only we had an extra 10 or 12 hours in a day . . .
Speaking of my fancy new camera, I was out and about in downtown Tacoma yesterday and had my camera and tripod with me, so I shot some photos of the Glass Museum, etc. Here's one shot from that adventure. Click on it to see others . . .
So since I've been back from Vegas, I still have not felt 100% after my bout with Diverticulitis. I'm probably feeling 95 - 97%. So my doctor referred me to a gasterointerologist (sp?). So this morning I swung by TRA in Tacoma and picked up my films from my CT scan last month and headed to the Tacoma Digestive Disease Center to meet with Doctor Hiroda. After filling out the requisite paperwork, the nurse called me back and took my blood pressure. 128/84. The lowest it's been in I don't know how long. So that was one bit of encouraging news. She left and a few minutes later Dr. Hiroda came in. We talked about my bout with Diverticulitis and set up a time line of when everything had occurred. First symptoms, doctor visit, CT scan, antibiotics, etc. Then Dr. Hiroda checked my breathing, my heart and poked around on my abdomen a bit. Everything seemed fine.
Next, he drew me a picture of a colon and explained how diverticulitis came about. Apparently it's just really an American disease (land of the free, home of the brave!) and because we have such a high fat, low fiber diet, we're prone to this. He was concerned that I was so young to have gotten it. He said normally people in their 50's or 60's would have their first bout of it. And if I were in my 80's he'd just say, watch what you eat and take these antibiotics. But with me only being in my 30's, he said the chance of a recurrance is pretty high. Great. So because I have a well documented case of Diverticulitis, with CT scan, etc. he mentioned that the next step would be to perform a colonoscopy. Frickin great. So next Wednesday, I get my first colonoscopy. I'm soooooo looking forward to it (not!).
I guess this is really a (another?) wake up call that I really need to get my $#!t together and change my diet. Need to get some fat out and get some fiber in. I love vegetables, but I guess I just don't eat enough of them. And I doubt the slice of tomato and the leaf of lettuce on a burger counts for much. Man, I'm just so bummed right now I can't even describe it. A month ago, I was working out 3 - 5 days a week. I was eating a healthy breakfast for the first time in I don't know how long. I was losing weight slowly but steadily. I was cutting out drive throughs. Very little soda. Lots of water. Then another "itis" strikes. Just completely derailed me. The week in Vegas was good, but not great. I was watching that I didn't have any nuts or seeds, limited my alcohol intake and was worried all the time that my Diverticulitis wasn't really gone. And now, the next week is going to be less than pleasant too. I've got 2 days of liquid diet coming up. Lots of pills to swallow to make my trunk empty. A tube being shoved up the exit only ramp. Just frickin' great.
OK, I recently purchased a new Nikon D80 Digital SLR camera for use in my Real Estate business. I learned early on in my real estate career that buyers today want more information about a home than ever before. That information is coming from the internet and often includes virtual tours and at a minimum LOTS of photographs. Buyers today simply skip over any homes that don't have photos, or the homes with bad photos. As I search the MLS for my clients, I'm constantly amazed at the number of bad photographs out there. I would honestly be embarassed to present my client's home in this manner. So anyway, I've been searching for instructional books, DVD's, etc. to help me use my new camera, lenses, and flash more efficiently and professionally. I want to make sure now that I have some of the best equipment, that I'm using it to it's fullest capability. During my hunt, I came across this guy's web site. I'm happy to mention his name, Norm Fisher of Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate. I normally wouldn't give another Real Estate agent a ringing endorsement on my blog, but by all means, if you live in Saskatoon, HIRE THIS GUY! He and I obviously are on the same page about the current state of MLS photographs out there. He even put together a virtual tour of some of the worst photos out there and posted it online. It's hysterical and well worth your time to sit through it.
I think it's our duty as professional Real Estate agents to present our client's homes in the best possible light. If you don't have the skills required to either take a good photo, or fix the bad ones (Thank god for Photoshop!) hire a professional to shoot your homes. Really. You'll be doing yourself AND your clients a favor.
Without further ado, here are two photos I came across on my local MLS today that I thought worthy of inclusion for the bad photo hall of fame. Enjoy!
I think there's a kitchen in there somewhere?
OK, so this house had two whole pictures, one of the front of the home, and this one. Seriously? Do we think the air hockey table is going to entice a buyer?
So, that all being said . . . if you ever see a photo like this on one of my listings (I pray this never happens) just let me know and I'll have myself taken out back and shot. I really want to do the best job possible for my clients and represent their homes appropriately.
I know a lot of us think about our troops often and most (I think) support them regardless of what we think of the war in general. Personally I'm grateful to our troops for serving our country when asked. I'm grateful that they can put aside their personal beliefs and go where ever and do what ever is asked of them. Personally I don't believe we should now be in, or ever have gone into Iraq. However, I have a good number of friends and clients that serve in our Armed Forces and I support them 110 percent. They have a tough job. I can be relatively sure that when I go out to show a home, or drive a client around, I'm not going to get shot at, or have something explode near me, or god forbid, kill someone that day. Our troops don't have that luxury. Because of what they do, I'm allowed to do what I do. So thank you to the many men and women serving our country here and abroad, your efforts are not going un-noticed, nor are they un-appreciated, at least by me.
Yesterday our war in Iraq came home. At least to our household. Sergent Major Bradley Conner, 41 was killed Wednesday by an IED road side bomb. Sgt. Conner was Teri's cousin. We had the privledge of meeting him just a week prior to his departure for Iraq at Teri's family reunion. I remember Brad and I talking about watches. I'm a big fan of watches and Brad had a particularly cool one. He was a good man, a patriot, a husband and loving father and he will be dearly dearly missed by all that knew him. Brad was proud to serve his country and did not have any dilusions of what type of situation he was in for. You never think that someone you know, let alone someone you are related to (even if only by marriage) will be killed in a war. I think that's why it's so much more shocking when they are. Brad, I'm going to miss showing you my new cool watch. I know you would have loved it. We'll be thinking about you and rest assured that your family will be well loved and taken care of for you. You have a strong support group at home and I know you'll watch over them. Take care my friend. You'll be in our thoughts and prayers.
So unlike Steve, I likely will be blogging about every ride. :-) Unfortunately my blog only allows 400px wide, so I can't include the full details like he does. But I'll summarize it anyway:
Ride on Saturday morning:
Location: Sumner, Pierce, Washington, United States
Activity: Road Biking
Distance: 29.46 (mi)
So unfortunately Brandon, Chuck and Carl could not meet me this morning at 7AM. Brandon and Chuck could only do 8AM, so I went it alone. It was OK though cause my iPod was loaded with Metallica, Tool, Linkin Park and others so I was able to keep a decent (for me) pace. This was also my first test of the Garmin Forerunner 305. Pretty cool little device. It keeps track of my heart rate, elevation, speed, splits, etc. After I got warmed up a bit, I settled into about a 13 - 14 MPH pace for the ride out. I did the full 14.7 miles out without stopping. I went to the Fire Station in South Prairie and turned around and stopped at the SP trail head for some water, gatorade and some Clif Shot blocks. After recharging, I headed back. The nice thing about this trail in the direction I did it, it's uphill out and downhill back. So on the way back my cycle computer regularly read over 20MPH and my mile splits were in the low to mid 3 minute range. I connected with Brandon and Chuck around 22 miles and we chatted a bit. The last 5 miles or so there was a pretty strong head wind, so I was going quite a bit slower. With about 2 miles left, my legs got REALLY tired, so I basically coasted the rest of the way back. I think my last two splits were still under 5 minutes though. It was the furthest I've ridden since a couple years out of high school, so I feel good about that. I've got a lot more training to do if I'm going to do the 50 in the Dam2Dam in September though!
Click on Map Below to view full details at Motionbased
OK, so I finally did it. I finally got married to my lovely companion of the last 9+ years, Teri. Here is a brief rundown of the whirlwind week we just had in Las Vegas . . .
Thursday May 3rd, 2007
Arrived in Las Vegas around 2:30, took limo to the Paris hotel and casino.
Met Brandon and Liz for dinner at 5:30 at Delmonico's steak house at the Venetian. AWESOME steak, good wine, GREAT company!
Saw Blue Man Group at 7:30 at the Venetian, GREAT show! 3rd time I've seen them and they're great each time.
Took cab back to Bellagio and hopped our limo to the court house to get our wedding license around 10:30.
No waiting in line at the court house, so got our license and headed back to the hotel.
Friday May 4th, 2007
Relaxing by the pool for a couple hours.
Grabbed some lunch and shopping.
Met the boyz at the Paris for final Tux fittings
Headed out with Brandon, Liz, Chad and Tina for dinner and drinks. Mike (Pepe) met up with us later in the evening.
Saturday May 5th, 2007
Brunch with wedding party and parents at the Paris Buffet (Le Village) at 11:00
Headed over to the Bellagio to show everyone where the wedding chapel was and where to be the following day
Teri gambles while John downloads photos from camera.
Head to New York New York Big Apple bar around 5:30 for "Meet and Greet" bail at 7:30 when nearly no one shows.
Head to Nine Fine Irishmen for some dinner and drinks
Gambling at NY, NY, Marcus arrives around 10:30
Sunday May 6th, 2007
Gather Boyz together for move to Bellagio while Teri and Girlz go to spa
After checking into suite at Bellagio (OMFG!) and seeing how the other half live, take boyz to late breakfast at Bellagio Cafe.
Get complimented for doing a round of shots that early in the morning
Head back to suite to chill until 1:30
1:30 put on tuxedos and girlz appear and we all head down for photos
2:00 - 3:00 photos around the Bellagio
3:00 - 4:00 wedding (she does, I do)
4:00 - 6:00 reception at the suite
John and Teri cancel dinner reservations and CRASH!
Monday May 7th, 2007
Relaxing day, meet up with Marcus for some wandering, gambling and dinner.
Tuesday May 8th, 2007
Walk all up and down the strip, get our photo proofs at the Bellagio and have dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at the Paris
Wednesday May 9th, 2007
Awesome trip. Thanks everyone that could make it for the wedding, we love you and appreciate all your support!