Sometimes I hate Technology . . .
So last week I posted how I got my new HD-DVD drive for my Xbox 360. The picture from it is fantastic! However, I'm watching DVD's in 1080i and not TRUE 1080p resolution. So I feel like I'm missing out. The issue is to get 1080p, you need two things . . . an HDMI connection from your source . . . and an HDMI input on your display. While the Xbox has an HDMI output, my TV is only rated for 1080i and therefore, no HDMI input. [SIGH] So I've been pondering the purchase of a new TV . . . I'm a Mitsubishi fan . . . and have been eying the WD-57833 57" rear projection 1080p DLP set . . .
Mitsubishi WD-57833 57" Rear Projection TV
Because of our entertainment center and it's big size . . . we don't need a fancy plasma or LCD TV to hang on the wall. A rear projection will be just fine and many reviews show the picture quality to be better on a rear projection than on a plasma or LCD anyway. The TV is $2,499 at Crutchfield. So much for my huge savings on my HD-DVD player.
Now I'd love to clean up the mess of cables behind my stereo rack, but to do so would require a receiver also capable of HDMI, so that means upgrading my receiver too. [SIGH] I'm a fan of Sony Receivers, but my buddy Ken is trying to convince me that Yamaha is the way to go. I've always wanted one of Sony's ES line of receivers, so I'm looking at their top of the line STR-DA5300ES . . . $1,699 at Crutchfield. [SIGH]
Sony STR-DA5300ES Home Theater Receiver
I'm sure I could get both for less somewhere else . . . but still I'd be looking at $4,000 just to upgrade my receiver and TV. Which I guess when you think about it, is less than I paid for my last TV . . . A Mitsubishi 46" Rear Projector that I paid I think $5,000 for . . . I could probably sell my TV and current receiver on Craigslist and get maybe a thousand of that back . . . maybe . . . Sometimes I hate technology . . . Or rather, I hate that I always have to have the latest and greatest of everything . . .
I love a good deal!So yesterday I was at Best Buy to pick up another "Charge and Play kit" for the Xbox 360. Since Teri and I have been playing so much, I thought it was silly to keep replacing the batteries in the controllers. Anyway, as I was picking that up, I eyed the Xbox 360 HD-DVD player. I've been pondering picking one up for a few months now, but just never really found the right "deal". I was hoping they'd drop the price to like $149.95 or something. No luck on that, but I think I got an even better deal.
Right below the DVD drive was a little tiny sign that said "Buy an Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive and get Season 1 of Heroes free (a $99.00 value)". I went over to look at Season 1 of Heroes and sure enough it was on HD-DVD and $99.00. So I thought, well that's a no brainer. So I picked up the DVD drive and Heroes. I was wanting to buy Transformers on DVD too, so I picked up the HD-DVD version of it. As it's mostly CGI anyway, I thought it would look MUCH better in 1080i (my TV doesn't do 1080p). I headed to the checkstand and proceeded to check out.
The girl ringing me up said, "don't you want your other free HD-DVD?" I said "HUH?" She went on to explain that in addition to Heroes, I also got two free HD-DVDs, so Transformers was free and I went over and picked out Evan Almighty. I really wanted 300, but they were out. So that'll be another trip. So to recap, I got the DVD drive, Season 1 of Heroes, Transformers, Evan Almighty and King Kong (came with the drive) all for $179.00.
It gets better. Toshiba in conjunction with Microsoft is giving you FIVE free HD-DVDs with the purchase of the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive. So now I get to mail that form in for FIVE more HD-DVDs! Eight free HD-DVDs PLUS Season 1 of Heroes and the HD-DVD drive all for $179.00! AWESOME!
Bummer . . .
So a couple months ago I listed my motorcycle, a 2002 Kawasaki ZZR-1200, in Cycle Trader. I haven't really ridden it much in well about 4 years . . . so it was taking up space in my garage and I felt guilty for not having ridden it. So I listed it for sale. Originally I listed it at $6,995 and got a few calls, but no one ever came to look at it. About a month ago, I dropped the price to $5,995 and again, couple calls, no lookies . . . I got a call on Wednesday from a guy that wanted to see it and we arranged to meet yesterday at around 4PM.
I went to work yesterday morning for a few hours and then came home and gave the bike a good wash . . . pumped up the tires and rode it around the block a couple times to make sure everything was in working order . . . About 4:00 this guy calls and is lost. Typical for our neighborhood. We've had to give directions and guide people back on more than one occasion. So anyway after arriving at my house, we commence to talking about the bike. He seems interested enough and compliments me on how well I've taken care of the bike. We start it up, put it on the center stand and he continues to check the mechanicals of the bike. He asks me about the freeplay in the chain and I have to sheepishly admit that I'm not mechanically inclined at all . . . I simply start it up, warm it up and tear it up.
I tell him about the touring bags I have for the bike and show him those. I tell him with the right offer I'll throw them in. He says "What is the right offer?" . . . I say "Well it's listed at $5,995 and for a full price offer I'd throw them in." he says "Lets call it $6,000 then?" . . . I say "Perfect!" we shake on it and agree on the details for delivery next week.
Teri came into the garage and I say "Well hon, it looks like we no longer own a motorcycle" she said "Ooooh. Bummer!" I think she honestly enjoyed riding on it as much as I did.
I'll miss the bike. I'll miss knowing it's not there when I do get the wild hair to go for a jaunt through the twisties . . . We had some good times the Zed and I. Most notably the four days Brandon and I spent bombing through the Canadian backroads
carving a line through the twisties and seeing if you could really get less wet in a thunderstorm by riding faster.
Brandon getting ready after lunch in Canada
Then there was the trip to Mount Saint Helens one day when the ZZR was still a rare site on the road, I had agreed to meet another Zed rider at the mountain. As we were standing there talking, what should appear? Another Zed! It was too cool! I dubbed it the first ever ZZR West coast Rally
3 ZZR's in a Row! Paul, John and John by their trusty steeds!
And of course who could forget riding around Mount Rainier with Teri
on the back or our trip to Yelm when she said "Are you going to pass this a**hole?" I downshifted to 4th and went around. After returning to highway speeds, she asked "How fast was that?" and I said "You really want to know?" . . . "Yes" . . . "135" . . . "Oh, OK" . . . I love my wife . . . safe at any speed . . .
The Zed at Mt. Rainier
I'll miss the Zed, but she's going to a good home I think . . . I told him to send pictures . . .
To Shannon . . .
Shannon at home in University Place
Now that Taylor is 17 weeks old, she's really growing up to be a pretty fantastic dog! Having a dog again has really reminded me of the previous dogs that have come through my life. Most recently Princess whom we still miss every day and my childhood dog, Shannon. Shannon was a beautiful Irish Setter and just about the sweetest dog I've ever met.
Shannon came to us one morning while my mom and I were waiting for the bus to ferry me to Kindergarten. After I left on the bus, Shannon followed my mom home. We put ads in the paper and eventually someone called, described the dog perfectly and said "Her name is Shannon, I'll be right over to get her." He never came and never called back, Shannon was officially part of our family.
Our neighborhood had a fairly large forest behind it and rarely a day went by that Shannon and I were not exploring every nook and cranny of that forest. My friend David Little and I frequently rode our bikes into the woods and while we were establishing JD's Cove, our secret whistle and handshake, Shannon could be seen romping through the brush uncovering all manner of critter.
We had a piece of lake property down in Ocean Shores and would frequently head down for the weekend. As soon as we arrived and let Shannon out, no more than 10 seconds went by before we heard a loud splash and Shannon was in the lake. She'd spend all weekend in the lake and bounding through the fields along side me as I rode my bike.
Back home, Shannon had a penchant for lying in the middle of our street and affectionately earned the nickname "neighborhood speedbump". Cars would come flying up the street, see Shannon, jam on the brakes and honk. Shannon would casually lift her head and look at the driver as if to say "Maybe you should slow down bub." and then resume her nap. The driver would back up and go around.
Should the dog catcher be in the neighborhood, rarely would he catch her. Rather, she'd lead him home and we'd get the leash law lecture. I think my parents did have to bail her out occasionally though. She was my faitful companion all the way through high school. She was a great dog and many of my fondest memories include her. So Shannon, wherever you are, I know you and Princess are looking over little Taylor. We thank you!
Shannon and John at home [Left] Shannon in Ocean Shores by the Lake [Right]
Sticky Grenade Anyone? Perhaps a Brute Shot?Halo 3. Is. Here. And? It fricking rocks! So when Halo 2 was released, I stood in line at midnight and picked up my reserved copy. Pizza hut gave us free pizza for the wait. It was grand. But I'm a couple years older now and the prospect of waiting in line with 12 year olds no longer impresses me. So I simply waited until the store opened and picked up my copy of Halo 3. Yes, I'm a geek and I enjoy playing video games. Kill me.
I spent the first few days playing the campaign and finished in short order on the "Normal" level. I then decided that was too easy and went back through the campaign on "Heroic". It took a bit longer, but another few days and I was done . . . again. Now I want to go back through and find all the hidden skulls . . . which basically will require me to complete the campaign again. C'est La Vie.
Where Halo 3 really shines though is in multi-player through Xbox Live. I should also point out that my wife Teri plays Halo. And LOVES it. She's the only girl in our group of friends that has successfully completed Halo and Halo 2. I think she's the only one to ever play it even. She's on the campaign right now on Halo 3 and I'd bet in the next couple of weeks she'll finish it as well. When we first played after bringing the game home, I'm embarassed to admit she kicked my ass the first couple of games we played. I think I'd take her now though. :-) As I was saying, on-line on Xbox live this game REALLY REALLY shines. The past two Friday and Saturday nights, Teri and I have been on-line with up to 6 of our other friends playing against people all around the world. Oddly, it's a bonding experience for us. What's really cool though is that everyone has a headset and we can all talk. So even though you don't get a chance to see your friends very often, you can chat on-line while blowing each other up with a sticky grenade, sniper rifle or a Brute Shot.
Personally, I've been having an absolute blast catching up with friends . . . and killing them the past couple of weeks. We even have one friend, James, that lives in Florida. Pretty cool. And last night when James, Scott and I were playing, we got matched up with some guys from Mexico. I'll tell you what, organizing a team when each half speaks a different language is no easy task . . . but we won! Forget wars, forget fighting amongst other cultures . . . everyone get an Xbox and we'll settle our disputes on the Halo 3 battlefield! If only it were that easy . . .
Half Windsor . . .So at work I've been dubbed project manager for the Tacoma Mall Kiosk. Huh? OK our office has been given an opportunity through the Real Estate Book to staff a kiosk in a very high visibility location at the Tacoma Mall. Basically the highest traffic "intersection" at the Tacoma mall, we'll have a round section about 30 feet in diameter. There will be a nice rug on the floor covering the area, we have 7 leather couches, a few leather chairs, some coffee tables, etc. On one "side" of the area we'll have a kiosk. The kiosk will have a couple of LCD TV's that are displaying a loop of Real Estate Book advertising, we'll be in the kiosk in an attempt to meet people and assist them with their real estate questions. The hope is that we'll pick up a few clients along the way. As the Tacoma Mall has 13,000 people come through it daily . . . odds are pretty good you'll meet SOMEONE. I think it's a fantastic opportunity.
Anyway, as project manager it's been my duty to come up with procedures for the Kiosk, agent qualifications, dress code, etc. WHAT? Dress code? Anyone that knows me knows that I'm most comfortable in a beat up pair of Nikes, some shorts and a ratty T-shirt. The thought of putting on a suit or a tux almost gives me convulsions. However, I do see the importance of setting yourself apart from the crowd and coming across as a true professional. So yes, Dress code. So for men I've come up with the following: Dress Shirt, Slacks, Dress Shoes, Tie, Name Badge, Coat (optional).
Today we have our first training session to teach other agents what will be expected of them at the kiosk. So I broke out a dress shirt and slacks. And a tie. I got dressed and tied my tie as I have for 20+ years. A Four in Hand knot. Now 20 years ago, the tie de rigur was the little skinny black (leather) tie. The four in hand knot is a very skinny knot and worked very well with those ties. As I was looking at the big ol' collar on my dress shirt this morning and the knot on my tie, it just didn't look very nice. So I hopped onto the Men's Wearhouse site and looked up how to tie tie knots.
There are three basic types (four if you include bow): Four in Hand, Half Windsor and Windsor (Double Windsor). The Windsor is the broadest of the bunch and according to Las Vegas last week, commands authority. I looked at the step by step instructions for the Windsor and I guess I'm not that authoritative because I couldn't figure it out. So I stepped down to the Half Windsor. After a couple of tries (and having a tie that came up to my nipples) I finally got it right. Much better knot for the new millenium and works much better with my shirt. Now to go in and see the look on my broker's face when he sees me in a shirt and tie. He may just pass out . . .
The "Almost Made it Guy" . . .So I've been focused on goals of late. Not necessarily setting new goals, but looking back over goals I've previously set and reviewing my progress towards them. I made this the topic of discussion with my business coach this morning.
I'm starting to feel like the "Almost Made It Guy" . . . my bike ride couple weeks ago . . . almost made it . . . Mt. Rainier few years ago, almost made it. I can make excuse after excuse for why I didn't complete any of my goals, but I think it comes down to it just being me. The one exception to this is that when I set a goal, or make a promise to someone else, like my clients, it drives me like nothing else. I will do it, or die trying. But setting goals for myself, I think that maybe I set them too high and when I fall short, I beat myself up. There are a number of positive things that came out of each of the two goals mentioned above. But the long and short of it is, the ultimate goal was not achieved.
I don't want to set really wimpy goals. I want to lose 100 pounds, not 10. I can lose 10 on a good day . . . I want the 100. Of course I just got done reading the Kaizen way and it takes the approach of one step at a time. Start small for big change. Like don't go out and run a marathon tomorrow, start by marching in place during commercials on your favorite show.
I'm a Gen X'er damn it, I want it all . . . and I want it now! That's ALL, not some of it. And it's NOW, not tomorrow.
Bluetooth Rocks My World . . .So as you know, I'm a geek. I'm becoming less adept at my geekdom as I age and am no longer firmly entrenched in geek culture, but at my heart, I'm a geek. Ever since I got my new laptop , a Dell Latitude D830, a few months ago, I've been having issues syncing my Palm Treo 650. Hotsync manager was complaining about a COM port being in use, etc. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn't. The thing that sucked is I would go weeks and weeks without synchronizing my phone with my PC.
Now my phone has Bluetooth and I use it every day in my car, an Acura TL Type-S, which is also Bluetooth capable. When I get in my car, it pairs with my phone and to call someone I hit a button on the steering wheel and say "Call Teri Work" and my car replies back "Do you want to call Teri Work?" hit the button again and say "Yes" and the stereo mutes, or the CD pauses, or whatever and I talk hands free to whomever I'm calling. When a call comes in, the Caller ID is displayed on my speedometer and I again hit the button to answer the call. AWESOME.
Well I ordered my new laptop with a bluetooth card specifically for syncing my phone, but never bothered to set it up. Yesterday, I was tired of f-ing with my phone and trying to get it to sync through the cable, so I set up bluetooth. Man, why didn't I do this on day one? Now I just hit the HotSync Icon on my phone, no cables to connect, no fumbling around . . . it just connects wirelessly to my laptop and sychronizes the information. AWESOME.
I love bluetooth, it rocks my world . . .
The allure . . .
So in a previous post
, I mentioned my "Blog across the USA" idea. Last night Teri and I watched the last 10 minutes of an episode of Law and Order, SVU titled "Wanderlust
". At Borders books on Wednesday night I picked up a copy of "Into the Wild
" by Jon Krakauer. I'm noticing a theme . . .
More and more, I just want to have some grand adventure in my life. When I was laid off from Adobe in 2002, I took 10 days or so and travelled through 12 states. It was just me, my truck, my camera and a journal. I got to visit some places I had never seen and just generally decompress by myself for nearly two weeks. I would have likely been gone longer, but Thanksgiving was approaching and I was expected home for that. I do regret not pressing on from Houston to Florida to watch the space shuttle launch however. That's still on my list of "gotta do's".
Reading "Into the Wild" is a fascinating depiction of Chris "Alex" McCandless' life after college. Chris came from a fairly well to do family, and upon graduation from college donated his life savings of $24,000 to his favorite charity, packed some meager belongings in his Datsun B210 and headed off on his own. He never told his parents or his sister he was leaving and as far as I know, he never contacted them while he was gone. (I haven't finished the book yet, so he may have) Chris lived a vagabond's lifestyle after abandoning his car near Lake Mead in Nevada. He hitchiked from place to place and camped wherever he could find level dry ground. He took work only when he needed money for new gear or could not get food. He eventually ended up in Alaska in an abandonded bus where he perished. Again, I have not finished the book, but I think he died because some of the berries he ingested made it impossible for him to digest food and he starved to death.
The book is now a film directed by Spicoli himself, Sean Penn. When it comes out on DVD, I'll watch it.
I admire Chris for his "throw caution to the wind" attitude and his ability to follow his dreams. I do not however admire the way he went out. But the grand American adventure is in me somewhere. I need to find out how to explore that. More and more, keeping up with the Jone's is becoming less and less appealing and a nomadic existence has it's allure. Maybe this is what some describe as a "Mid-Life Crisis" although I'd hate to think at 37, I was half way done with living.
Should I care?I probably should, I mean it's about the future of our country right?
Lemme explain, last night I met some friends at Borders books in Tacoma to discuss some of our trials and tribulations losing weight. The meeting went well and after the other guys left, I couldn't help but browse a bit in the store. As I was looking at the "New Non-Fiction" section, it seemed like every presidential candidate had a book out. There was Obama's book. A book by John McCain. There was even an ad for a book by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Am I required to read a person's book before voting for them? What happened to riding on the back of a train caboose and kissing babies? Can't I just read the little blurb in the voter's guide and watch them on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to determine who's going to be our next leader?
Seriously, I'm not much into politics. I base all of my decisions on character judgments. If I think I would enjoy sitting down to lunch with a person and hearing what they have to say, they're a good candidate to get my vote. I'm not a democrat or a republican although I tend to vote for more democrats than republicans. I once voted for Ralph Nader simply to send a message to Bill Clinton. (Bill, did you get my message?) I'm not any wing, right, left or west.
I did buy Bill's book, but after about 10 pages in, decided I really wasn't as interested as I thought I was. I'm not likely to vote for Hillary simply because I don't think I could take four years of bad pants suits. Although the idea of having Bill decorate the white house in bachelor pad sheik is intriguing. John McCain interests me just because I think he could pop at any second and start having flash backs. (You think bad grammar is fun to watch . . . oh baby!) Barack Obama fascinates me because of my love of the American Underdog story. Fred Thompson, well I loved him on Law & Order and he seemed to have his priorities straight there so he must be a good leader right? John Edwards, I honestly don't think we'd have much to talk about over lunch . . . I just don't care that much about my hair. Rudy? Now Rudy fascinates me because he seems to piss everyone off a lot, then come screaming back from behind emerging as one of America's great leaders in a time of crisis.
I think maybe I'll just pencil myself in next year. At this point, I think I have as good a chance as anyone. Gotta write my book though.
Seriously guys (and gals) if you want MY vote (And I know that you do!) I honestly don't care who you previously slept with, who you're currently sleeping with or if you inhaled or not. Honestly, I don't care. I don't care if you're a Muslim a Jew, a Mormon or a Catholic. But if you are part of a particular religion, that doesn't form the basis for decisions you make, I'm not saying it can't influence your decision, but don't make a decision soley on your religous beliefs (Do you hear me George?) I don't care if you like wearing women's (or men's) underwear and doing drag shows in your spare time. What I REALLY care about is that you can keep our citizens safe without trampling on our civil liberties. I care if you can fix the health care system in America and make it fair and equitable for all American's to have access to world class affordable health insurance. I care that you make sure that anyone that's in this country has a right to be here and that they carry their fair share. I don't want a wall on the border(s), but I want accountability. And finally, can we please stop catering to the lobbyists with the most money?
It's all about the legs . . .So I need to find ways to increase my endurance. My legs have been an issue for as long as I can remember. When I was just out of high school, I did a 70 mile ride with some friends. At about 60 miles, my legs cramped, locked up and I fell over. Climbing mount Rainier in 2002, it took 3 attempts for me to make it to Camp Muir. Each of the two failed attempts, my legs gave out to severe cramping. On my summit bid in July of that year, my legs bore me to Camp Muir well enough on day 1. Getting up for the summit attempt the next morning, my legs were OK for a bit, but I had to tap out at Ingraham flats knowing that if I went further, coming down would be an issue. Now on the DAM2DAM this weekend, at mile 31 my legs started to cramp and eventually locked up. They're sore as hell today.
I know it's not a hydration issue . . . the day before our ride this weekend, I had about 8 bottles of water. The day of the ride, I had: 2 bottles of water on the way to the ride. A bottle of powerade when we arrived. Through the first 25 miles, I drank both of my water bottles (24 oz each) and at each rest stop (2) I had another bottle of water. For the return trip, I drank about 1.5 of my watter bottles full of Powerade. So the day of the ride, I had about 160 ounces of water or sports drink. I was peeing at every stop and it was clear. So I KNOW it's not hydration. I also had plenty to eat that day.
On my climbs, I was well hydrated and tried everything including salt tablets, potassium, etc. Nothing seemed to work. I just get to a point in a workout and my legs are just done. Many times before this weekend, my mind was done long before my legs. Not this weekend though. I wanted to finish that ride more than anything. So I don't think it's mental either.
I was reading a blurb in Bicycling magazine this weekend that suggests it's an endurance issue. So their suggestion is to do intervals. Start out by doing 2 sets of 10 minutes (during a 2 hour ride) at 80 - 85% of max heart rate. Gradually work up to 3X15 and 4X20. Makes sense. I think I'll be spending a lot of time in spin class this winter. Suggestions anyone?