Thursday, December 31, 2009

Back Up and Running...


We got a new router tonight from Best Buy. We opted to go for a bit more expensive one, mainly because it was on a better sale than the less expensive options. Basically, the $100 one was on sale for $90 but the $125 one was on sale for $100.

It's a Linksys and we got it home and installed in less than 20 minutes, and it's working flawlessly. Everything connects to it very well and it's got strong signals. The only thing that wasn't getting a really strong signal was the Xbox that is now located in the basement. So I ran up to Target and got a 16 foot USB extension cable and ran that up into the ceiling, and low and behold the Xbox down there is now got a solid 4 green bar connection.

So, after a couple hundred bucks and a good amount of time we've got EVERYTHING in the house running wireless and running well. I guess that's not so bad, considering we probably needed a new router anyways, and now the Xbox downstairs is running well. After all the issues last night we looked around a bit and found that the router that we did have had HORRIBLE reviews. Most of those reviewers were also experiencing the same things we were.

The connection to the Xbox in the basement was a bit of a hassle, but in the end we got it working which is really all that we can ask.

Who'd have ever thought that my friend Alex giving us an Xbox would cause us to:
A. Spend $275 on a new TV
B. Spend $100 on a new router
C. Spend $100 on an Xbox Wireless Adapter
D. Spend $20 on some USB extension cables
E. Spend about 6 hours working on getting a computer running again

It doesn't really matter, though. It was all stuff that we were probably going to do in the next few months anyways. I guess we just got to it sooner than later!!

What a Nightmare...

Wow. Tonight turned into just an absolute nightmare with Cathy's computer.

We went to Walmart tonight to look at an LCD TV to put in the bedroom so that we could move the 32" LCD down to the basement so that we could hook up the new Xbox down there. We found one that we liked but it was $40 more expensive at Walmart than it was on their website, so we left.

We stopped at Target and found the same TV for the price of Walmart's website so we snatched it up. It's a 26" Vizio 1080p LCD. It looks great in the bedroom...quite a bit better than the 32" LCD that was in there.

I then moved the 32" TV downstairs and hooked everything up. Grabbed my wireless adapter from the Xbox upstairs and checked it downstairs. It worked. So Cathy decided to go and grab a new wireless adapter for the Xbox downstairs so we could get them both hooked up.

We got it hooked up and running, but it was cutting in and out. I did a bit of searching and found out that if I upgraded the firmware on the wireless router maybe it would help a bit with the range.

That's when the nightmare began.

In the process of updating the firmware, the router reset itself which killed the internet entirely. Well, I'm no network whiz so I was now flying blind. I tried to just connect the desktop PC to the modem so that I could at least get some information back, but that wouldn't work.

So I called Comcast and they reset the connection so that it would work with the desktop again. I then found the manual for the router online and downloaded the PDF file. Everything should be simple now, right???

Wrong.

I went through the process exactly as described in the manual for the router...and...nothing. In fact, nothing actually was what the DESKTOP would now do. It wouldn't load any programs. It wouldn't shut down. It wouldn't close any open windows. It would literally do nothing.

So I shut it off, which just seemed to make whatever demon lives inside of it angry. The process of things not working continued to snowball until I finally tried a system restore. In the middle of this the computer basically just stopped...when I shut it down it started telling me I needed my Vista installation discs. Uh oh.

I ended up finding the discs, and about two hours later had Windows reinstalled. Yes, a fresh install. It wouldn't work trying to repair itself. It wouldn't do anything. So the fresh install was required.

On top of all of that, the darn thing wouldn't find the drivers for the uber-graphics card that's in it. After about an hour of fiddling around on the net I found the stuff for that and got it up and running.

So here are some good parts of the nightmare: the desktop is running again, it doesn't have any of the original "bonus" software that Dell had installed that we never use, and it seems to be fine.

Now here are the bad parts: all of the stuff Cathy had on the hard drive is gone...pictures, music, games...it's all lost and will need to be reinstalled, I still don't have the wireless network back up and running, who knows what other small drivers might be missing that I just haven't become aware of yet.

I guess in the next few days I'll have to go and get a new wireless router...hopefully one that will effectively install itself!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Laptop Update...


It's been nearly a month since I upgraded the RAM in my laptop...and it's still running VERY well.

I think that putting the extra RAM into the thing was probably about the best $30 I've spent in a good long while. It's like the computer is brand new again.

I've been running regular scans for malware and registry errors. So far I haven't run into anything with them, which is good.

I am really glad I ended up buying the RAM and not spending the money on another computer. I would have spent at least $300 on a new one...but instead I spent less than 10% of that total and I FEEL like I have a brand new computer.

I Had A Bad Day...


...in my fantasy leagues.

If you remember, I was playing for THREE Championships this week and was in a fifth place game.

Remember how last week I won every game I was in?? This week was the exact opposite. I lost EVERY game this week.

In my first private league I lose in the Championship game by a score of 95-70. It had a lot to do with a HORRIBLE showing by the Giants defense that netted me -1 point and the fact that Steven Jackson was projected to have 11 points but didn't even play. If those two parts of my team even get CLOSE to what they were projected to get, this game is probably tied. Oh well, I'll take a silver trophy in that league.

In my second private league, my alternate team was playing for the Championship. Going into the Monday night game I was up 72-71. I had Minnesota's defense and he had Minnesota's kicker. Well, if you watched the Monday Night game you know what happened. Final score, 78-72...another silver trophy.

In my first public league I was playing for a fifth place finish. I lost that one by 11 points to finish sixth. Oh well.

In my second public league I was in my FINAL championship game. At least this one was close...riiiiiight. I got beat by 60 points in a game that EVERY player on my team didn't come close to getting his projected score. ANOTHER silver trophy.

So four losses...three silver trophies. That's actually a pretty solid performance this season.

My final position in all of my leagues ended up:
First Private-2nd
Second Private-12th
Second Private Alternate-2nd
First Public-6th
Second Public-2nd

To make the week end on an even worse note...I picked the Giants and the guy in second picked the Panthers. We each had about 9 points on the game. We all know how that one ended...so my 15 point lead going into this week?? Let's just say it's now a 4 point deficit going into the final week of the season. At least I'm absolutely assured of a silver trophy at worst in that league...but I've still got a fighting chance to get the gold!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tee Gee Eye Eff...


What?? That's right...TGIF.

I know that I had a day off in the middle of this week for Christmas, but that didn't even feel like a day off when it was all said and done. We went to Lansing early just like we would for work, hung out with my parents and then drove home. Needless to say, it didn't really feel like a day off.

It was also REALLY busy at work this week. Not only was it busy, but there were a bunch of delays and such too, which made it seem doubly busy.

So I'm really happy to have a few days off. We are going to Cathy's dad's house tomorrow night for Christmas and dinner with him. Other than that, I don't think that we really have anything planned that we want to do. We'll probably go out for something to eat on Wednesday and maybe do some shopping around to see if there's anything we can find to spend some Christmas money on.

But either way, it's just nice to have some time to rest after a pretty hectic week.

Gearing the Car Up for Winter...


A bit over a month ago we got Cathy some new windshield wipers for her car. I actually like them quite a bit. They look nice and they work really well. They are blade style wipers that have constant pressure on all parts of the blade which helps keep the windshield as clean as possible.

Well, tonight I bought a set for the Taurus. I got them installed right when I got home. I'm trying to make sure that the car is at it's best for the upcoming winter. The blades that were on there worked okay, but these ones will just be that much better. I didn't end up getting one for the back, but I probably will in a week or two. I'd like to get a slightly larger one for back there so that it cleans more of the back window.

Next up will be some new headlights that are designed for safer night driving. They are brighter and focus the beam differently than standard bulbs. Oh yah...they look really cool, too!!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!


So today is Christmas...in case you hadn't noticed.

Cathy and I opened our gifts to each other right after midnight. Then this morning we headed to my parents house for gifts and dinner.

I got Cathy some Swarovski stuff...a charm necklace and a star charm. I also got her a giant stuffed monkey and a bunch of stocking stuffers. She also got a strategy guide for a game that she's been playing, but I gave that to her a few weeks ago.

She got me a few magic tricks, a small solar powered radio controlled car, a football trivia book, and some really cool wireless headphones so I can watch TV at night in bed and hear it instead of turning on closed captioning. She also got me a bunch of stocking stuffers as well.

I thought we both got each other some pretty good gifts.

Then at my parents we both got quite a few things. I got a floor jack for the garage...mainly so that my dad can take his back!! I got a Lego set from my grandparents and $50. They also got both of us a toaster oven...not one of the ones for toast, but one of the actual oven ones. My parents also got both Cathy and me one of those portable DVD players which will be nice for the trip to Vegas. It's a really nice one...with a big screen. They also got us headphones to go with them. My parents also got us a really awesome shower head that's one of those rainfall like ones. They have one in their house and I liked it...so my mom got us the new version of it.

I got some other stuff, too, but I'm pretty tired and right now I can't really think of everything that I got.

Everything I got for my family they seemed to like. So all in all it was a pretty good Christmas!!!

We are going to Cathy's dad's house on Tuesday to celebrate with him.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Xbox 360...


Cathy and I had been thinking about getting another Xbox 360 to have in the house. She wants it to hook up in the basement so that she can watch Netflix while she's down there doing puzzles or working out or whatever.

We were pretty sure we were going to get one sometime in the next few months as we continue to slowly work on getting the basement set up the way that we want it.

Well, today we went to work and our friend Alex had been busy handing out Christmas presents to all of his close friends. He saved Cathy and I till last and got us right as we were leaving.

Alex gave us an Xbox 360. It was the one that he HAD been using for the last few years. He recently had some trouble with it and just went out to buy a new one. After he bought the new one he took his broken one apart and found out that it was just a tiny little problem inside of it, and he went about fixing it so that it works perfectly. He decided that he would be keeping the new one anyways because it has a larger hard drive on it, so he figured that since we were looking for one that maybe we could get some use out of it.

Cathy and I were really surprised. We were planning on buying it from him when he first told us that he got it working again, but the fact that he gave it to us is super cool. We'll definitely be hooking it up in the basement really soon and getting everything down there running and in order sooner rather than later now.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Entertainment Stand...

So Cathy and I are probably going to be getting a Blu-Ray DVD player soon. We were originally going to get a PS3 to do the job, but our surround sound system hasn't been operating correctly for a while now, so now we're leaning towards getting a surround sound system in a box that has a BRD player built into it. We found an LG one at Best Buy that we liked quite a bit this afternoon.

We also have been planning on doing something different with the TV setup in the basement. Maybe adding a 32" LCD down there to replace the 20" tube TV that's down there now. We found a nice 32" TV with a built in DVD player at Best Buy as well.

We also have been planning, regardless of which TV is down there, on putting a different TV stand down there. So tonight while we were at Meijer we found a really cool TV stand that we both liked quite a bit. It's pretty stylish looking. Best part?? It was on sale from $140 for only $100. We also had a $5 off coupon. So we took some measurements of it then came home and measured it out and decided that it would work.

So we headed back to the store and bought it. As it turned out, Meijer was actually having some Santa Bucks deals going on so we got ANOTHER $20 off the total price. We got the whole thing with tax and everything for less than $80.

We loaded it into the car and went home to put it together. When I started getting the box opened, I thought I heard some funny sounds. Of course, when I got to the glass panels that the stand uses for shelves they were completely shattered. So back to the store we went.

We got it replaced with the other one that was on the shelf and took that one home. That one had no problems and within an hour I had it built. We then took the stuff off of the old shelf and put it on the new one.

It looks very nice in the living room and works perfectly with all of our modern components. It will look even better if we end up going with the Blu-Ray surround sound system, because the one that we found is VERY modern looking.

I'm pretty happy with the stand. It works great and makes the things look a bit less cluttered.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Championship Week...

Next week is Championship Week for MOST fantasy football leagues. It is for ALL of my leagues.

I am happy to report that this week, I went 4-0!!! I won every single game, and I won them all when it mattered the most.

In my first private league, thanks to the Giants defense I pulled out an improbable win. I will play for the Championship next week against the #1 seed. He went 13-1 through the regular season with the most points. Luckily for me, the most points was only a total of 32 more than my team scored...so I've got a chance. Either way, I'm guaranteed a trophy in the league...now it's just down to gold or silver.

In my second private league, as I reported yesterday my alternate team is on it's way to the Championship game. I'm guaranteed a trophy in that league as well...again, it's down to gold or silver.

In my first public league I destroyed my opponent. I won by 70 points. I'll play for fifth place next week, and the worst that I can finish is sixth. No trophy, but not too shabby.

In my other public league, I also destroyed my opponent by 40 points. I'll play for the Championship next week, and again can finish with nothing less than a silver trophy. I'll play the #3 seed. We split the season series with both of us winning by about 20 points...so it should be a solid game.

So luckily, I will finish with THREE more trophies this season, which I consider a solid season. Now, let's just hope I bring home some gold hardware!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First Weekend of Playoffs...

So the weekend is almost done, which means that the first weekend (or second in some private leagues) worth of playoffs are almost done as well.

Here's how things are looking for me right now...with ONLY the NY Giants vs Redskins game tomorrow left to be played.

In my first private league, I am currently winning by 5 points. I have the Giants defense left to play who are projected to get 11 points. He has Redskins Tight End Fred Davis left to play who is projected to get 6 points. I honestly am lucky to be going into the final game with this as tight as it is. Going into the Sunday Night game I had nobody playing and he had Brett Favre AND DeAngelo Williams. Those two players alone were slated to get 26 points which would have buried me. HOWEVER...Williams got hurt early and only got 1 point, and Favre had an old fashioned Favre-type game and only ended up with 5 points. Those two stats keep me very much in this game and very much in the hunt for the Championship game.

In my second private league, my alternate team has secured a spot in the Championship game with an 83-69 victory over the #2 seed. I will move on to play the #4 seed team who ended the season with the same 8-5 record as me...but scored about 100 less points. It should be a very good game for the Championship...and I like the fact that Carson Palmer is on my team going against the Chiefs. I also have Larry Fitzgerald going against the Rams. Gotta like those potential numbers. I can finish no worse than second, so I'll be adding another trophy to my case no matter what!!

In my first public league, the league where I missed the playoffs by one game, I am smashing the guy in the consolation round. I am currently up by 62 points with one guy left...he's got nobody left to play so that means I've won. I will finish no worse than sixth overall in that league.

In my second public league, I am up 93-66. He has Giants receiver Dominic Hixon left to play, who is projected to get .76 points. I would like my chances if that were all that was left...however...I also have Quinton Ganther, the Redskins running back, and Brandon Jacobs, the Giants running back, both left to play. Those two are slated to get 22 points for me, so I'm basically pretty much sure I'll be going to the Championship game in that league as well...which will assure me another trophy to add to my case!!

In my Pick'em league I led by 11 points going into this week. The Vikings loss tonight hurt me a bit...but only from running away with the week. I am currently up by 8 points for the week, 76-68. We both have the Giants picked tomorrow night. I have 11 points on them...he has 15 points on them. That means that IF the Giants win, the final for the week will be 87-83. I am already assured a victory overall for the week, and I'll go into next week with a 15 point overall lead. If the Giants lose...I'll be even better off. Not too shabby. I really wish the Vikings could have come through tonight for a win. That would have given me another five points and could have sent me into next week with nearly a 20 point lead. But I guess had they won, I probably wouldn't have been so fortunate in my first private league's playoff game...so it's alright.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Busy At Work...

Man, it's been really steady the last few days at work. I'll be thankful when the holiday rush is over.

It's been the kind of days where you are literally standing and working for 8 straight hours. Even when there aren't a ton of people, there is still a steady enough stream of people to basically make it so that there isn't any time to take a break at all.

The one thing that's really nice about when it's busy like that?? The days go by fairly quickly...and it's ALWAYS nice to finally get home after a day like that.

I'm hoping it will calm down just a tad over the next couple of days. I could use a slower day!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

N.O.V.A. for the iPod...


Near Orbital Vanguard Alliance is a new game for the iPhone/iPod Touch. I downloaded it tonight for around $7.00.

It's amazing. This is basically a direct rip off of Halo for the Xbox, only on the iPod. Many of the guns are similar, the enemies appear similar, and the overall design of the game just screams Halo.

But you know what?? That doesn't take away from the fact that this is one of the best hand held games that I've ever played. I have over 40 games that I have downloaded for the iPod, but this is by far the one that has given me the most "console like" feelings of them all. Granted, I like a LOT of the games I have on my iPod, and I play a lot of them quite a bit.

But this new first person shooter is something to marvel at, and really lets the competition know that the iPod is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to gaming.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Playoff Time!!!


Fantasy Football Playoffs are here in standard leagues. In one league I started them last week.

Luckily, I actually made the playoffs with THREE teams this season. So it's time to start getting ready and getting players set for a run at some trophies!!!

In my first private league, I am going in as the third seed against the second seed. I am projected to win by 11 points...BUT...this is the same guy that thumped me by nearly 80 points just last week.

In my second private league, my alternate team has moved on to the second round as a third seed, and is also playing against a second seed. I am favored in that game by 5 points. I actually haven't played the team that I'm playing against at all this season, so I'm not sure how this one will turn out.

In my public league I'm going in as the #1 seed. I'm playing against the #4 seed and I'm favored to win by a solid amount. I did play this guy once this year and beat him pretty good...but this is the playoffs so we'll see what happens!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Shopping is Done!!!


My Christmas shopping is COMPLETELY done!!!

I got all of the gifts done the other night, and now I don't have to worry about anything else for the last 10 days before Christmas. I will have to run out to get some stocking stuffers, but those can be purchased pretty much anywhere at pretty much anytime...

so, as far as I'm concerned my shopping is done!!!

Another Seizure for Cooper...

Tonight Cooper had a mild seizure. It was probably the "best" seizure that I've recalled him having. He only went through the initial stages and it only lasted a couple of minutes.

It happened while he was getting amped up over getting some dinner. The three dogs were all getting really wild, and he just had it. When he got done with it I fed him and he ate just fine, then went outside and peed a river.

This is his first one in over 6 months. The last one he had was back on March 30th of this year. So it's been over 8 months actually.

Again, I'm only really putting this into the blog so that I can keep track of WHEN we KNOW he has them, so that if they become more common we can let the vet know.

For now he seems absolutely fine...but I'll keep my eyes on him.

FFL Regular Season is Done...

So all of my fantasy regular seasons are done. This last week wasn't the greatest for me...

In my first private league I got HAMMERED. 155-73. I'll fall to third place and enter the playoffs. That's the good news. The bad news?? The guy that just destroyed my team will be my first round opponent.

In my second private league, my team is done. My OTHER team won it's first playoff game 83-68. I'll move on to the next round and face the #2 overall seed. It should be a pretty close game.

In my first public league, I lost to fall to 7-7 and end up missing the playoffs by two games. Not too shabby, really, considering that I lost four games in a row in that league leading up to last week.

In my other public league, I lost to drop to 10-4. However, the guy that was tied with me also lost, so I'll go into the playoffs as the #1 seed. I have several hundred more points on the season than the guy I'll be playing...but nothing is ever a given.

That makes me 1-3 for this week...however, the one win was the one that was the most important, because it was in a playoff game.

For the season I am now at 39-30, which is good for a .565 winning percentage. Not too great, but not too bad. I am also in the playoffs with three of my five teams, which is pretty good.

In my Pick'Em league the Cards lost tonight so I didn't gain any more points, but EVERYONE in the league had the Cards picked so I lost 6 points to the guy in second place this week, but stay at 11 points up overall in the league.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hanging On By a Thread...


...in my Pick'Em league.

After jumping out to a 17 point lead going into this week, I played it safe with most of my picks. However, the guy in second place went out on a limb with a couple of picks, and as such going into the game tonight he had picked up 11 points on me which had pulled him within 6 points of me.

Worse yet?? We had different picks for the Sunday night game...each with 5 points on the game. If he won, he'd pull within 1 point of the overall lead...if I won, I'd pull back to an 11 point lead overall.

Luckily, I had the Eagles picked and he had the Giants picked. At the end of that game, I was back to an 11 point overall lead. We both have the Cardinals picked for tomorrow night...I have 8 points on them and he has 7 points on them. So if the Cards can manage a win, I'll be back up to a 12 point overall lead. He'll have gained 5 points on me overall, but that's better than what could have been!!!

My Magic Collection...

My magic collection has been constantly growing since I came back from Las Vegas.

Since getting back I have acquired a collection of nearly 45 effects. I have asked for some for Christmas as well, and I'm anticipating having nearly 50 by the beginning of the year.

I'm having a lot of fun learning the tricks and then performing them for others...especially co-workers. I like tricks that work themselves, because I'm not very proficient at sleight of hand...but that hasn't limited the amazing results of many of the effects that I have. Of course, some of them that I have bought I like better than others...but overall I'm pretty happy with my collection.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Las Vegas, Lance Burton, and Carnival Games...


Lance Burton is my favorite magician. I've liked him ever since I was young when I saw a special starring him on TV. I've been to Vegas twice in the last 15 months, and BOTH times that I was there I wanted to see Lance perform at the Monte Carlo hotel. However, both times that we were there, somehow, he was on a break from performing and wasn't going to be there.

So I checked his website out for our trip in February, and of course there are no shows listed while we'll be there. I was a bit disappointed as I really want to see his show, so I contacted his web site to check to see if maybe the tickets just hadn't gone on sale yet. Luckily, they got back with me and said that Lance would be having standard performances all through February, but not all tickets for that month had gone on sale yet. So it looks like I'll finally be able to go and see him!!!

Also, I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but when Cathy and I went to Niagara Falls a few summers ago we had a TON of fun at "The Great Canadian Midway," which is a collection of carnival type games in a giant building right down near the falls. We really liked playing the games and winning tickets...to us it was almost like gambling but with a more certain payout.

Well, after looking around the web I found out that Circus Circus Hotel and Casino have a pretty spectacular indoor midway at their hotel. So we decided that one of the days we are there we are going to make our way down to Circus Circus and have some fun at their midway.

I really can't believe that I hadn't thought that they would have one before. I guess it just kind of slipped my mind that they were down there at all. They are so far down the strip that it's pretty easy to forget that they are there.

Either way, we're coming up with some things to do that are different than what we've done the last two times...so it's beginning to seem like it's going to be a full trip again...instead of just resting and relaxing!! However, I WILL be gambling a bit more this time...I'm a sports nut and the Winter Olympics will be on while we're there, so I'll be having some fun with that!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Got Those Gifts Figured Out...

I figured out what I am going to get Cathy for Christmas. I found it online today and I really like it. I hope she ends up liking it, too.

I also realized I wasn't quite done with my shopping...I had everything all set for my grandfather, but I forgot to actually submit the purchase on Amazon. So I have to actually do that still as well, but that shouldn't be a big deal because I'm an Amazon Prime user so I get the free two day shipping.

After those couple of last things, I'll be all done with shopping...which means that I can avoid stores like the plague for that last couple weeks before Christmas!!! That will make me a happy camper!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Almost Christmas Time...


It's almost Christmas time. I have all of my shopping done except for Cathy. She has given me a few ideas, but I'm having trouble finding what she wants (like it's out of stock online) and even the ideas that I've come up with on my own have been proving troublesome to find.

Hopefully in the next few days the things will be back in stock and I can get them all ordered and on the way. If not, I'm going to have to come up with some other ideas quick!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Crappy Weather...

It's super cold today...it also snowed about an inch or so.

Now it's raining, though, so the snow is turning into this disgusting slush. It's really slippery outside. I had to run to the store this evening and the going was pretty slow.

With the snow starting to come, and probably it's going to be around more and more over the next few months, I think that I'm going to get a sled. There's a pretty nice sledding hill at Cascades park, and I think it would be fun. Plus, they are only about $15...so it's cheap, too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What a Fantasy Week!!!!!

Alright!!!! What a week!!! I had been waiting for a week like this for a while.

In my first private league, I ended up holding on with the help of Donald Driver and a bad day by Ray Rice. I ended up winning 116-104. That takes me to 7-6 in that league and I am solidly in second place. Best part?? I should have secured a playoff spot with the win. The best that the guy in fifth can get to is 6-7-1...so I should be locked for the playoffs.

In my second private league, with MY team I got yet another win. I wish I could have gotten a few more in the middle of the season. I held on for an 85-81 win, bringing my record to 6-7 and finishing the season with a 3 game winning streak. Even so, I will miss the playoffs with that team. I finished strong, though, which is okay in my book. I will finish 6-7.

My OTHER team in that league lost today. However, due to the other things that happened in the league, I secured a playoff spot with an 8-5 record. I've been inconsistent the last few weeks, but I also played a couple of the top teams in that span. I secured the third overall seed in the playoffs, which is pretty good. The playoffs in that league start next week.

In my first public league, I got a win to break my four game losing skid. I climb to 7-6, and maintain my fifth place position. I need a win next week, a loss by the guy in fourth, and I need to get about 30 more points than the guy in fourth in order to be able to make the playoffs. It's a long shot...but the good thing?? I'm actually playing the guy that is in fourth, so if I win I will get two of those three things out of the way right off the bat. The winning by 30 will be tough, though. The worst I can finish is going to be 7-7, though, so that's a successful season.

In my other public league, I had a nail biter!!! I went into the Monday Night game down by 23.26 points with Aaron Rodgers still to play. Well, when it was all said and done, Rodgers has gotten me 23.52 points...that's right, .26 points more than I needed for the win. I ended up winning the game 104.92-104.66. That takes me to 10-3 in that league, and solidly in first place. It was a close one, and barring any stat corrections I should come out with the win. I don't think there will be any stat corrections, because there was already a small one in the Monday Night game so I think I'll be good to go.

So that means that I went 4-1 this week...which puts me at a season total of 38-27, which is pretty good. I will have at least two teams with winning records, and at worst can have two teams with .500 records. I will only end up with one team with a losing record, and that is one game under .500. I have secured playoff spots in three of the five leagues and I'm still alive in the other league.

To top all of this off, the Packers won tonight which gained me another five points in my Pick'em league. The guy in second had the Ravens, so after this week I will have a 17 point lead. That will be the first point change in nearly three weeks in that league.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm Loving the Cardinals Tonight...

Today in my Pick'em league I was in a pretty bad spot.

I had a two point lead for the week over the guy that's right behind me, but he had 10 points on the Vikings tonight and I also had the Vikings, but with only 4 points on them. So if Minnesota would have won the game I would have been down by 4 points for the week.

We have different picks for tomorrow, with me having Green Bay with 5 points and him having Baltimore with 3 points.

So, had Minnesota won tonight he would have had a chance to gain 7 points on me for the week, which would have pulled him to within 3 points of me. But, since the Vikings lost, the most he can do is win tomorrow which would give him a one point win for the week. That would get him to 9 points back.

However, if Green Bay wins tomorrow, I'll end up winning this week by 7 points which will put me back to 17 points ahead.

We've been separated by 10 points since November 17th...so this is the first time that anything is really going to change at all.

I'm really glad the Cardinals handled the Vikings the way they did...they at the very least gave me room to breathe for the week!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Going Back...


So we did it. We originally weren't planning on going back to Vegas for a while...but I decided that I would have the most fun with my bonus money by going on a trip. Cathy got an e-mail about getting 25% off the rates of the rooms at the Planet Hollywood if we booked more than 60 days in advance.

So we did it. We booked a room for four nights in late February.

We are going to go and just do some hanging out this time. Cathy wants to see a show, so we'll probably end up doing that, and we'll probably end up going to the Knight show at the Excalibur for dinner...but other than that I think it's going to be a whole lot of relaxing. I may end up renting us a car this time so that we can go and do some things that are a bit out of the way if we want to, but I'm not 100% sure on that yet.

So now I'm in the process of trying to find some good fares to get out there. It's looking like the whole thing should cost me right around $800, which isn't too bad at all!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fantasy Week Results...

So now that the first game of the week is almost over (Jets-Bills) I think it's time to update what ended up happening this weekend in my fantasy leagues.

As I posted earlier, it wasn't very pretty...but it wasn't all bad.

In my first private league, I ended up winning and going to 6-6. Amazingly that puts me solidly in second place. Two more games before the playoffs, and it would appear that if I win one of them I'll be in really solid position to make the post season.

In my second private league, with my team I ended up winning to go to 5-7. I'm out of the playoffs with that team, but that doesn't mean I can't play spoiler for a few other teams. With my other team I ended up losing to drop to 8-4 and have not yet secured a playoff spot. However, even if I lose next week the team that is in 9th place will need to score nearly 300 points to overtake me, so I'm pretty sure I'll end up in the playoffs with that team.

In my first public league I dropped my fourth straight game to fall to 6-6. I'm not out of the playoffs yet, but I need to win my last two and have the guy ahead of me lose at least one of his games in order to get in...so I'm not really counting on much.

In my other public league I dropped my second straight game to fall to 9-3, however I'm in first place still and have secured a playoff spot.

That brings my overall record for the season to 34-26. I have basically secured two playoff spots and I'm looking solid for a third one. Not too shabby so far...lets just hope I can bring home a trophy or two.

Also in my Pick'em league I ended up staying ahead by 10 points. The guy in second and me had different teams for the Monday Night game...luckily I had the Saints and he had the Pats, so I gained the point I had lost back. The guy in third is now 58 points behind me, so he's effectively out of the running. Basically, me and the guy in second are fighting for the gold now...as the other two have fallen so far behind that they can't seem to get back into it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Rejuvenation of My Laptop...


I have a laptop that is a couple of years old.

It's a Dell Inspiron B120. It's got a Celeron 1.4 ghz processor in it with a small hard drive and 512 megabytes of RAM.

Well, I had been thinking about getting a new computer with some of my bonus money from work. But then I started thinking...maybe I can make this Dell work a whole lot better. I don't really use it for much other than browsing the internet, storing pictures, using Notepad, and downloading iTunes Apps for my iPod. So there really isn't any reason that I would need some super computer to be able to do those things.

I set about getting it running in tip-top shape again. I ordered one gig of RAM from Crucial. The system can support up to 2 gigabytes, but after some research I found that in this system 2 gigs wouldn't be much better than 1 gig. That, and I could upgrade to 1.5 gigs for $30...to upgrade to 2 gigs would have cost me $60. So the one gig was a much better value as far as I was concerned.

Next, while waiting for the RAM to come in the mail I went about taking care of some things on the operating system. I started out running my Spybot to look for spyware and then ran my AVG to check for viruses. Both of those came back with nothing, so I ran a scandisk on the system and got rid of some unused files. I then ran a defrag on the system which took FOREVER.

I was then turned on to a little program called CCleaner. CCleaner is a system cleaner utility that does a whole bunch of things. It helps you remove programs, it clears internet caches, it clears temporary files. Basically, it cleans crap off of your computer (which by the way is what that firs "c" in "CCleaner" means...crap). I used the program to remove over 1.5 gigabytes of programs and unnecessary cache and temporary files. I had no clue that much of my hard drive was being taken up by those things. That alone made the system run quite a bit faster...especially on the internet. CCleaner also has a part of it's program that runs a registry scan and clean. Using that I found that I had nearly 1,000 registry errors. CCleaner fixed all of those for me as well.

I then found that the company that makes CCleaner also makes a defrag utility that they claim is better than the one that comes with Windows. It's called Defraggler. I downloaded that and used it. To my surprise it did seem to do more than the Windows one did, and not only that but it did it infinitely faster. I don't know if it was so much faster because I had just run the defrag a few days earlier, or if it's because it's just a better program.

The last thing I did software wise was upgrade to a better spyware program. I downloaded and used a program called Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes is exactly what it sounds like...a program that checks for malware of all kinds...viruses, spyware, trojans, roots, worms...the works. It's not a good substitute for an actual anti-virus program because it focuses on getting viruses that other AV programs miss or can't remove. I ran that program and found that I had a couple of problems. One was a Trojan Horse of some kind and the other was a worm that was rampant on Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter earlier this year. I never use Facebook, but apparently the worm can enter your system even by logging in, which I do occassionally, so I'm sure that's where I got the worm. I've got no clue where the Trojan Horse would have come from. Either way, both of them were removed. I noticed a drastic increase in performance of the computer as soon as I had used Malwarebytes.

Then today my RAM came. One nice little stick of one gigabyte. It took me two tries to get it installed correctly...the first time I didn't have it pushed far enough in to the slot...but once I got it in the computer instantly recognized it and now I have 1.5 gigabytes of RAM in the system. Before when I was using the computer like I typically would, I would have anywhere from 400-600 megabytes of memory being used by the page file...so basically I was maxing out my RAM and then some. Now with the new RAM in there I don't have to worry about that at all anymore.

Now that everything is done, the laptop seems like a new computer. It's running crisp and fast, even better than I remember it ever running. I got all of this done for a grand total of $30. The programs were all free so the only thing I actually paid for was the RAM.

I MAY think about buying a new hard drive for the computer soon. I have a 40 gigabyte one in there now, but apparently I can get quite a bit better performance out of a new larger one that is also faster. I have found a few in the $50 range that should work perfectly. To do this though, I may have to take it to a friend to have them do it because I don't have Windows discs anymore. I might not even end up doing it...you never know.

All in all, I'm really happy with what I've done to it. I would HIGHLY recommend CCleaner to anyone that is having some issues with performance on their PC. I would also HIGHLY recommend Malwarebytes. Defraggler may or may not be a better program than the defrag system in Windows...I'm not sure...but it's free, too, so that one I would recommend as well.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Not too Shabby Fantasy Week So Far...

So after a couple of rough weeks, this one is shaping up to be not so bad. I lost some games, but I was projected to get beaten in every single game, so that's not bad if you ask me.

In my first private league I am up 136-114 with one guy to play on my team. He's finished. So that takes me to 6-6 in that league and into third place at worst. The guy in second is losing though, and if he loses we'll have a three way tie for second.

In my second private league, my team won to go to 5-7. Oddly enough I'm STILL not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in that league. My other team lost thanks to Cedric Benson not playing to drop to 8-4. I am still looking very good for the playoffs with that team, but probably won't clinch this week.

In my first public league I am leading by 24 points, but he's got a couple of guys left to play...one of which is Drew Brees, so that one is still up in the air. A win would take me to 7-5...a loss to 6-6. A loss will probably put me into the consolation round only...a win puts me in good position for the playoffs.

In my other public league I have lost to drop me to 9-3...the good news, it looks like the guy I was tied for first with will also lose to drop to 8-3, which will force a three way tie for first place. If one of the two 6-5 teams in that league lose then the top four teams will all clinch playoff spots. Then we'll just be battling for seeding.

My Pick'em league went pretty well. I had a 21 point lead going into the second half of games this week, but lost that quickly due to losses by Jacksonville and Arizona. However, the guy in second place can only at best gain two points on me overall, which would still lead me with an 8 point lead. However, I think we both have the same team picked for tomorrow night, which means that I should still have a 9 point lead. I also distanced myself from the guy in third even more. I believe that I'll be about 50 points ahead of him...which mainly means that I'm fighting with only the guy in second for the gold. Should be an interesting run to end the season!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday Bonus...


Penguin has a Holiday Bonus every year.

Basically, if you buy a certain dollar amount worth of magic you get free stuff. If you spend more you get more free stuff.

I've been holding off on buying a couple of effects because I was waiting for the Bonus to be announced...only problem, it still isn't up yet.

They had said that it would be announced the day after Thanksgiving, which was today, but after the end of the day there still hadn't been any announcement made. I still have no idea what the bonus is going to be, because I wasn't around the site last year.

I guess I'll just keep (im)patiently waiting and hope that they announce the stuff early next week.

Friday, November 27, 2009

More Thoughts on Laptop/Netbook...

So I had decided that I was originally going to get myself a nice little netbook right after the new year.

I started looking into some things that I could do to maybe get my laptop running a bit better, and I came across a few things.

First of all, I found a program called CCleaner. It runs a sweep of all kinds of things that a virus or spyware scanner doesn't do. It cleans out all kinds of things that are taking up space. I freed up over 1.5 gigabytes of information by using this program. I then used it to run a registry cleaner, and it found nearly 1,000 total errors in my registry on my computer. So I fixed all of those with it.

I then ran a scandisk and a disk defrag. After all of this I found some programs that were constantly running that were taking up valuable system resources. I killed those programs and then shut everything down and brought it back up.

Wow, what a difference it made. The laptop is running like new again...but I did find a pretty major flaw in my system. It only has 504 megabytes of RAM. I then checked my system performance and found that even with only one window of Firefox running I was using 498 megabytes of memory. So basically, I am maxing out the RAM that this computer has. I went over to Crucial.com to check what they had to offer, and I found that I can double my RAM to 1 gigabyte for $30...or I could go all the way to 2 gigs for $59.

I did some research and asked a few questions on a message board and found out that if I were to go to the 1 gig of RAM I would probably notice a MAJOR increase in performance on the machine. The guys said that going to 2 gigs might be a bit overkill, but it couldn't hurt. So right now I'm thinking about ordering the 1 gigabyte of RAM in the next few days and installing it to see what kind of difference it makes.



Basically, the way I'm looking at it is if I can spend $30 or $60 to get this laptop back to the performance that I would like it to have, well, that's a lot better than spending a few hundred on a netbook. I do like the idea of the netbook, but I also really like my laptop...so if I can save it I think I'd rather do that.

So I'll be ordering at least 1 gig of RAM in the next few days...and I'll be hoping that makes this thing work quite a bit better!!!

Drats...

...it's snowing.



That means it's officially time for me to go into my semi-hibernational state that is required when it officially becomes winter here in Michigan.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Net Book...


My laptop has been acting up a bit over the last few months. It is starting to do those little things that "old" computers start to do when they are on their last legs. Hanging up when doing simple operations, not loading programs correctly, locking up to the point where it needs to be manually powered down. You know, things like that.

So I'm thinking right now that I might end up getting myself one of those little netbook laptops to replace it. Pretty much the ONLY things I do with my laptop are browse the web, type notes to myself with Notepad, and store my photos and videos that I take. I don't play games, I don't do anything major, and the MAIN use it gets is for browsing the web.

I believe that a netbook would be perfect for what I'm looking for, so I think I'm going to use some my bonus from work to get myself one. I'm looking right now at the Dell Mini 10. It gets really good reviews and I like the way it looks. Unfortunately, the price on it ranges quite a bit...so I'll have to do some research to see what exactly I want so I don't spend money that I don't need to spend...and also so that I don't end up with a computer that doesn't do the things I want it to.

Got My Phone...


My new phone came today just like it was supposed to.

I got it out of it's package and got it turned on. Verizon has really streamlined the activation process when you are upgraded to a new phone. As soon as the phone was turned on it told me to press "1 then send" to activate. I did that and within about 45 seconds I was good to go with the new phone.

I like it quite a bit. It's a good size, looks nice, and has quite a few nice features. The only downside that I've found so far is that my old Centro did text messaging almost like instant messaging...it looked like an AIM conversation when you viewed it, which I thought was really cool. This new Samsung phone doesn't do that...it's texts are just straight text messages.

It takes good pictures, and it came with a USB cord to manage photos and such on the phone with a PC, which is a really nice feature.

I went looking for a case for it tonight, but couldn't find one that I liked...so I ended up cutting up a baby sock and sewing an end of it shut to make a small pouch for the phone. It works like a charm, and best of all instead of $20-30 for an actual case, this one cost me $1.50 and about 10 minutes.

Overall I'm satisfied so far...but I'll have to update in a few months if that changes. I was happy with my Centro for the first 100 days or so...then it all fell apart. But all of the other just regular phones I've had I have been very happy with, so I don't think this one will be any different!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ANOTHER Rough Fantasy Week...

I would really like it if I could put together two solid weeks in FFL, but I'm just not having any luck doing that.

In my first private league I lost. That drops me to 5-6. Oddly enough, however, I think I actually moved UP one position into third place. That league is all out of whack because the leader is 11-0 and there's only 8 teams, so second place is a 6-5 team and then the rest of us are all below .500.

In my second private league, with my first team I won to climb to 4-7 and into 15th place. I'm out of the playoffs in that league, however, so it doesn't really matter. With my second team I also won, to go to 8-3 and stay solidly in second place. With a win or a tie next weekend I should be able to clinch a playoff spot. I may actually even be able to clinch with a loss if some other teams lose, but let's not have that...let's just win and get it over with.

In my first public league I lost my third straight game to drop to 6-5 and into 5th place. I have a game next week against a guy that I'm pretty sure has stopped playing, so hopefully my slide will end then and I'll get into good position to make the playoffs.

In my second public league I also lost, dropping me to 9-2 and into second place again because the other guy at 9-2 has six more points than me. I'm fairly certain that I've got a lock on a playoff spot in the league, but I haven't officially clinched yet.

So that makes me 2-3 on the week...which seems to be about what I've been doing for the last 6 weeks. It also brings my season record to: 32-23, which isn't really very good. That's a .581 winning percentage...luckily I'm looking pretty good for the playoffs in at least two of the leagues, and probably one more. I'm only really completely out of it in one league, so I could end up making the playoffs in four different leagues.


In my Pick'em League I held my lead...however, what was a 20-something point lead just a few weeks ago is now only 10 points. The guy that is currently in second has picked up 17 points on me in the last three weeks, so it's time to get back on point with that. This week three of us tied with 98 points...and I'm now 40 points ahead of the third place guy so he's falling farther and farther behind.

Cathy's Dad Called...

...last night and told us that Thanksgiving would have to be put on hold for a week or so because everyone in his house is pretty sick.

We were originally going to reschedule it for next Tuesday, but Cathy remembered that she had plans that she had postponed from this week so that we could go to her dad's, so it looks like we'll be doing it in two weeks. That's alright by me, because that means we'll get some turkey this Thursday and then some more about 10 days later.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Mobile Phone On The Way...

So I have been using...well, more like trying to use...a Palm Centro as my cell phone for the last 15 months or so. I initially got it because I wanted a smart phone with the ability to browse the internet and get sports scores and such. I was also interested in the touch screen and the full QWERTY keyboard that it offered.

For the first few months, I really liked it. It worked well and was just all around a solid device. However, after that first few months the thing just started to really go downhill. Things on it stopped working or taking forever to work. For instance, in the process of sending a 50 character text message I would have to stop every few characters and wait 10-15 seconds for the device to catch up with what I was doing. Or changing screens to get to the internet would sometimes take several MINUTES. These things were all things that I found incredibly frustrating and really were making me regret my choice of device.

So I decided that it was time to start looking for a new phone. I didn't really want to have to pay for one, so in browsing Verizon's site I found out that I was actually eligible for an upgrade of my current phone to a new phone for the current promotion price of the new phone. So basically, if they were currently offering a phone for $50 with a new contract I could get it for that. I started looking and found one that I liked quite a bit.

I ended up going with a phone by Samsung. I've never had a Samsung phone, I typically really like LG phones, but this one had 4 stars on Verizon's site...which is incredibly high considering most of their phones have like two stars. It also had 4 stars on CNET's web site, so I figured it had to be a pretty good phone.

I was able to get the phone in a pretty cool looking Flamingo Red color for absolutely nothing. The phone was free, and it included free overnight shipping, so it should be here on Tuesday. I'm not sure how much activation will be, but there was something on their website about Free Activation for the few days before Thanksgiving.

The new phone will be cool, and the best part is that I shouldn't use any of the functionality that I had before. I ended up keeping the text plan that I had, keeping the insurance, and going with the 25 megabyte data plan. So the phone should do everything that my Centro did, but the best part is it will cost $20 less per month than the Centro did. The Centro's text plan and insurance were the same price, but it's data plan was $30...the data plan for the Samsung is only $9.99. That should translate into even more savings because I'm sure all the random fees that Verizon charges will probably be a bit less, too.

This is what the phone looks like...the Samsung Intensity...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Did You See That???


The end of the Lions game today was epic.

Down 24-3 in the FIRST QUARTER, Matt Stafford brought the Lions back. They had the lead at the end of the 3rd quarter, 31-29. But these are the Lions, so you knew that it wouldn't be enough. And sure enough it wasn't.

Cleveland scored with about 6 minutes left and got the 2 point conversion to take a 37-31 lead. Stafford threw an interception with 3:40 seconds remaining, and the Lions defense went back on the field. After one first down the Lions stopped the Browns and forced a punt.

They took over at their own 12 yard line with 1:46 left to play and no timeouts. Enter the rookie, Stafford.

Stafford connected on three straight passes to get the Lions to their own 46 and then spiked the ball. He then completed another 11 yard pass to the Cleveland 43 and spiked it again. One more 11 yard completion led to what would be an amazing end to the game.

Stafford stopped the clock with about 8 seconds to play on the Cleveland 32 yard line, setting up one last ditch effort for the Lions.

Stafford took the snap from the shotgun and runs to his left. Nothing. He eludes a sack like a guy that's been in the league for years and crosses back to his right. At the right hash mark he slows up just enough to elude another sack. The eight seconds that were on the clock are now gone. He then backed up, and KNEW that C.J. Mosley was going to bury him...so he delivered a pass deep into the end zone. Stafford got absolutely planted by Mosley. He lay motionless on the field as the rest of the play unfolded.

Brodney Pool picked off the pass in the end zone that was intended for Calvin Johnson. But it was all for nothing, because Hank Poteat had pushed Bryant Johnson out of the back of the end zone while the ball was in the air...the flags flew, pass interference. No time on the clock. That's one free play from the one yard line.

Stafford got up and hobbled to the sideline clutching his shoulder. He was in obvious pain. Cleveland took a timeout and Daunte Culpepper trotted out onto the field. At this point in time Stafford is trying to convince the team doctor that he can go in for one last play. Culpepper lines up and then Cleveland calls their last timeout, I'm sure because they needed to get play information in for dealing with Culpepper. But as this timeout is called, Stafford is successful in talking the doctor into letting him go in for the final play.

Stafford lines up under center, obviously still in pain, and takes the snap. With no time left and no chances after this he delivers a perfect pass to the Lions OTHER first round pick, Brandon Pettigrew, for a touchdown. Hanson adds the extra point. Game over. The Lions have now won two games.

You learned a few things about Matt Stafford today. First off, the guy doesn't quit. Down by 21 with about 3 minutes to go in the first quarter he went to work. All he did today was complete 26 of 43 passes for a Lion rookie record of 422 yards. He also threw FIVE touchdown passes this afternoon, and only two picks. That, in my opinion, is a good day for ANY quarterback in the league...let alone a rookie. Did I mention that today he became the youngest player in the history of the NFL to throw five TD passes?

Second of all, you learned exactly how tough this kid is and how much he wants to win. It would have been easy for him to just sit on the sideline for that final play, but he begged and pleaded to get back in. He WANTED to win. He KNEW he could win. This is an attitude that has been absent from the Lions for a LONG time. He was fired up, and the fact that he went back in there in a condition that many players in the league would just sit on the bench shows how tough this kid is and how much heart he has.

There will be good days and bad days in this young quarterback's career...but today was a good day...and a day that Lions fans should be proud of. Matt Stafford played an excellent game and delivered when the game was on the line. Amazing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

6-6...

So the Spartans got trounced today by Penn State.

That means that they have ended their up and down season with a fitting record of 6-6. I had really high hopes going into the season...maybe 8-4 or possibly even 9-3. But I didn't really think that 6-6 would be the end result.

I didn't expect a 1-3 start, with losses to Central Michigan and Notre Dame. I didn't expect the late season loss to Minnesota.

They lost three games by 3 points or less...so that would have easily been the difference between 9-3 and what they ended up with.

Their defense wasn't good enough. They simply gave up too many points. They averaged nearly 30 points per game, but they gave up nearly as many.

After all that's been said and done, I'm kind of hoping for a bowl berth here:
If they end up going there, I may just go see them play. It will give me a reason to go to Ford Field, which I've wanted to do for a while, and it will get me to my first Spartan game in a few years. Also, hopefully it will be a bowl game that they actually have a chance of winning!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yearly Bonus...


This year at work I really put my mind to getting a good bonus. I did some things that I normally don't do (as far as volunteering for things and such) and it ended up paying off.

I ended up getting the Level 5 bonus on our PASS system at work. PASS means "Performance, Accountability, and Standards System." It's what we're rated on for how good we did at work. Level 5 is the highest level that you can get, and it comes with some pretty good bonuses.

First off is a 4% raise for the next year on top of any other cost of living and across the board raises. That equals out to about $1,500 per year, which isn't bad. That, of course, doesn't include any of the shift premiums and such that I get on top of my yearly pay. To illustrate this, I have already made my yearly salary for this year, and we still have three pay periods left in the year. That just kind of illustrates how much the shift premiums help out with my pay.

Second, is a $2500 cash bonus. I could have gotten nearly $1,000 more than this...but I missed ONE more bag than is allowed on my image test. I missed three and you are only allowed to miss two in order to get the maximum score. So basically I missed out on about $1,000 by one bag. I was a bit upset with myself because of that, but I am looking at the bright side. $2500 is a pretty nice chunk of change!!!

I have already decided what I'm going to do with it. I'm going to take Cathy and I on another trip. I have determined that traveling makes me more happy than buying things. I had originally thought about selling my motorcycle and using the money from this bonus with the money from that to get a bigger motorcycle, but I don't ride the bike enough to actually warrant doing that. I will end up getting us a trip somewhere and that will be a ton of fun. With what I have left from the bonus I may look to buy a new laptop computer because mine simply hasn't been working all that great lately, or possibly just paying down some debt.

I figure that I worked pretty hard for the bonus this year, so I'm going to use it for something fun instead of just to pay off bills. It's not like I'm having trouble paying the bills anyways, so I might as well use the money for something cool!!!

Hopefully I can keep it up and get this high bonus again next year. I don't think I should have too much of a problem getting it done!!!

Got Thanksgiving Off...


Cathy and I ended up getting Thanksgiving off this year. We didn't end up taking any holidays off last year, but this year we got both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We're not that big on partying on New Year's Eve, so we didn't worry about that.

We're going to end up going up to Lansing on Thanksgiving for dinner with my parents and probably my grandparents. On Tuesday we are going over to Cathy's dad's house for a Thanksgiving dinner there, as well.

Basically, in a span of three days we're going to have more turkey than I think we know what to do with!!!

It's also a good way to get a nice little three day weekend!!!

Didn't Make It to Work Today...

Last night when I was taking Gordon out, I somehow managed to slip and fall on the wet driveway. I landed pretty hard on my side, mainly because I didn't have the use of my hands to break my fall.

I didn't want to let go of the leash because I was worried that Gordon would run off, so even when I knew I was going to fall there wasn't much that I could do to stop it.

When I woke up this morning I was really sore. It doesn't look like it got bruised or anything, so I'm wondering if in the process of trying to catch my balance or something I strained a muscle. Either way, it was really uncomfortable so I ended up calling in sick to work.

I spent most of the day just sitting around watching TV and playing some video games. Oh yah, and browsing around on the internet.

I'm feeling a bit better, but it still feels a bit sore. I'm guessing in a day or so I'll be fine. I hope so at least.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Addition to the Zoo...


So Cathy's hamster, Ash, died a little while back.

She thought that maybe she would want to replace him, so I started suggesting that maybe we think about getting some rats.

Well, the other night we headed to Pet Supplies Plus to look at them. We had been to several other stores and they either didn't have any or they wanted quite a bit more for them than we thought they should cost.

So at PSP, they had what appeared to be one little baby boy rat. He was climbing up on the wall of the cage when we came to look at him. We didn't get him then, because we thought that they were supposed to be kept in pairs or more, and they only had one. So we went home and looked up some information and it said that you can introduce young rats from different litters at a young age without many problems. So we decided to go back to PSP and get the one, then we'd get another young one from one of the other stores that we had found them at.

Well, when we got back to the PSP, there were two in the cage!!! The other one must have been hiding when we were there before. So we found a cage and got all the supplies. We then asked one of the workers if we could get some help with the rats so she came and unlocked the cage. She then moved this little hut thing and...

...HOLY COW!!! There were about 20 of them hidden underneath the hut!!! They were all huddled together and when the thing got moved they scattered!!!!

We ended up getting two of them...one of them was the one that we initially saw climbing on the wall of the cage. His name is Archibald. He's just a gray colored rat with GIANT ears!!! That is the one that Cathy picked out. The other one was really active inside the cage. His name is Roswell. He's gray and white, with a little white spot right on the top of his head. He's the one that I picked out.

We got them home and got them set up. They are pretty skittish. They seem to be scared whenever it's really bright in the room. The first night we kept them mostly in the bathroom because we THOUGHT that would be the best place to get them out of their cage and not lose them. Well, after Cathy went to bed I got Roswell out in there and quickly learned that it's NOT the best place to not lose them. He promptly went underneath the vanity in the bathroom and up inside it. I had to take some drawers out to get him out.

They are pretty cool. Even after just a few afternoons they are starting to get a bit more willing to be picked up and held and such. They are still a bit skittish, but they are getting better.

Cathy really likes them. I do too. I hope that they get over being the little bit skittish that they are soon, because I'd like to be able to get them out and actually play with them!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

WHAT A GAME!!!!


So the Colts came back...from down 17 points...to beat the Patriots tonight in an absolutely epic game between the two best teams of the past decade.

They went into the game tonight with the Colts having 109 regular season wins and the Patriots sitting at 108 regular season wins.

The Colts trailed early in the 4th quarter by 17 points. The Colts then proceeded to outscore the Patriots 21-3 in the next 14 minutes to come out with a last second TD catch (and an AMAZING one at that) by Reggie Wayne to secure a 35-34 win.

The key moment?? Coach Belicheat deciding that his defense wasn't going to be able to stop the Colts and going for it on fourth and two. A good call by the official put the ball short of the first down marker and gave Peyton Manning the ball on the Patriots 29 yard line with two minutes left and down by six. I'll tell you what. Peyton Manning will take that chance EVERY TIME...and 99% of the time he will assassinate you and make you pay. And it happened again tonight.

Did Belicheat not have any confidence in his defense?? Did he think that his offense was so unstoppable that it was a given that they'd get the two yards?? We might not ever know, but the bottom line is the Colts have now won 18 straight regular season games, and come out of week ten with a 9-0 record.

Amazing.

Go Colts!!!

Looking Like Another Mediocre Fantasy Week...

In my first public league I have won 111-92. Neither of us have any players left so the game is done. That will take me to 5-5 in that league which will put me solidly in third place. I'm in good position in that league to make a run at the playoffs.

In my other public league, I actually lost both games. Neither of the games were even really close. That will drop me to 3-7 with one of the teams and probably in 18th place. The other team will drop to 7-3 and will remain in second place. I'm still in good position to make a playoff run with that team, as well.

In my first public league I got absolutely hammered. I lost by nearly 40 points. That drops me to 6-4 in that league and in a tie for fourth place. That league is up in the air. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make a playoff run or not. I still have some time left to put some wins together, though.

In my last public league, I dominated my opponent by 60 points. He still has Ray Rice to play tomorrow, but there is no way that Rice gets 60 points so that game is done. That puts me at 9-1...and best of all, the other guy that had one lost got smashed this week, so I'm now all alone in first place in that league!!!

So, all in all it was another mediocre week. I can't seem to put together two really good weeks in a row at all. I went 2-3 this week.

After this week, I am now 30-20 through 10 weeks of the season. Not too bad, but it could be better.

I also made a SNAFU in my Pick'Em league. I forgot the game on Thursday night started at 8, and I didn't get my pick for that game in on time. There were also quite a few upsets this week, so I was 7-6 today. Luckily most of the guys in the league all had VERY similar picks, so I didn't really lose much as far as points go.

After today, in the Pick'Em league I will have a 10 point lead over the second place guy. I think he can gain two points on me tomorrow, but we both probably have Baltimore picked, so he'll get no closer than 8 points. The third place guy is down by 32. The fourth place guy is down by 87.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Magic...


It's getting near the holidays, and that means that Penguin is starting to have some deals. They are really good deals, too.

For instance, today for one day only they had a deal where if you bought ANY physical item for ANY price, you got a free trick valued at $15, a free book valued at a few bucks, and a free deck of cards valued at $10. So basically, if you bought one $2.00 item you got about $30 worth of stuff for free.

Needless to say I ordered a trick. It was one that I just found by chance this afternoon, and I really liked it. I showed it to Cathy and she said it was really cool. So I bought it. I'll gladly take free stuff if Penguin wants to give it to me!!!

Alpha Coney Island...


I know I've made a post about food already this week, but this one needs to be mentioned as well.

In the Jackson Crossing mall is a little place called Alpha Coney Island. I have lived down here for over two years now and never went in there...even though I like hot dogs and Coney Dogs. I guess I just figured that Cathy didn't like them.

Well, I heard on the radio yesterday that they had moved to a new location in the mall, so I wanted to try it out. Cathy and I went there today, and to my surprise it was much different than I thought.

I had originally figured it would be a fast food place...but it's not, it's a sit down restaurant.

The new location is awesome. It's stylish, the atmosphere is nice, the menu is large, and the overall place seems really cool.

Then there's the food. Cathy had some chicken kabobs and I had two hot dogs and a Supreme Coney Dog. Amazing. We got a ton of food for not a ton of money, and all of it was really, REALLY good.

I can't believe I hadn't tried this place before. It will now be added to our rotation of restaurants that we go to...and it's price and location probably will make it be one that we go to often.

I'm glad they moved...because I might not ever have gone in had they not.

Not Much Going On Lately...

So...you may have noticed that I'm not posting to my blog as much as I used to.

It's not because I've forgotten about it...it's simply because there hasn't been that much going on. The weather has started to change and that means I've been spending much more time inside just doing a whole lot of nothing. No new games have come out recently so I haven't been playing any games.

Really about the only thing I've been doing is studying up on magic. I've found more and more tricks that I like, and my collection has grown to nearly 40 effects already.

So really, other than that there hasn't been much to post about. Add to that the fact that the Red Wings didn't start out the season so well, the Lions are still just the Lions, and nobody cares about the NBA and you've got a recipe for not many posts. College hoops will start REALLY soon, so that might give me something to post about.

In closing, I haven't forgotten you blog...I just haven't had much to say!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2...


If you've been reading my blog for a good long while, you'll remember that I LOVED the original "Left 4 Dead" by Valve for the Xbox 360.

Well, next Tuesday the sequel to it comes out. I finally took the time to download the demo, and the demo plays just like the first game, with some tweaks that make it just a bit better.

I think this is going to be the game that keeps me on my Xbox over the next several months. It's going to be great.

I haven't been looking forward to any game more than this...and hopefully this one will give me a good solid six months of online play...just like the first one.

I can't wait!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another Bad Fantasy Week...

So...every time I have a good fantasy week, like last week's 5-0 record, I follow it up with a bad week.

This week I went 2-3. I lost one game by .4 points.

Luckily, the two wins were in leagues that I'm still hanging out near the top. So I'm still tied for first ine one of them and in the other I'm not .5 games back.

I also lost some of my lead in my Pick'em league. I now lead by about 20 points. Still pretty solid.

Worst of all...I got my last strike in my Survival league...thanks to a horrible game by the Packers. So I'm out of that league now.

Oh well, hopefully next week will be better!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What a Breakfast...


So Cathy and I had today off. Her brother, Nick, was going to be in Ann Arbor for the weekend to watch the Michigan Wolverine game, and he wanted us to come to Ann Arbor with Cathy's dad for brunch.

So we took the day off and headed to Ann Arbor to go to this place called Angelo's.

When we first pulled onto the street that the restaurant was located on, we noticed what appeared to be a mob of people just standing down on the corner. It turns out that was the group waiting to get inside.

We made our way to Nick and he already had his name in...the wait was supposed to be an hour. We waited for right about that long and got inside. We were seated at a tiny little booth that seemed like it didn't really even have room for the four of us and plates. We made our orders and waited a little while for the food to come.

Cathy, Nick, and I all had homemade French toast. Cathy's dad had some corned beef hash. The French toast was great. It was the thickest bread I think I've ever seen, and there was literally a ton of it. I had tried to order sausage to go with mine, but they were all out so I had bacon instead. It was really good, too.

Nick ended up treating us all, which was really nice of him. I thought the food was great. It might not really have been worth an hour long wait, but it was gorgeous outside so it didn't really feel like it was that long.

I'd like to try and go back there one day during the week, to see if the wait is as much and to try some of their other things. Their menu had lots of stuff that sounded good on it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lazy Days...


So, for whatever reason I've been DEAD tired for the last few days.

I had been thinking about it a bit the last couple of days, and it seems like ever since the time change my internal clock has been all messed up. I've been tired and not had any energy at all. I'm sleeping okay, but I just feel lazy and tired.

Hopefully as the days go on, I'll get a bit more used to it and start feeling a bit better and less tired. But then of course winter will get here, and I won't want to do anything anyways!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

First Magic Show...


So tonight Cathy and I went up to my parents house for her birthday, my dad's birthday, and our anniversary. Kind of just a general get together.

I knew that my grandparents on my mom's side were going to be there, and I figured my grandma would like some of my magic tricks so I took the entire lot of them...except for my iPod trick, I accidentally left that at home.

When I got there, my mom let me know that my grandparents would be there a little later, and that my other grandfather was going to be there, and my aunt was going to be there.

I didn't really know if I wanted to perform any of my tricks for that many people. I get nervous when I'm the center of attention for more than just one or two people.

Well, when my aunt got there we started all talking about Las Vegas and how my mom wants to go there for Christmas next year. My aunt started talking about the magic show that she watched while she was there last, and how she doesn't believe in magic but the things they were doing at the show really made her wonder, and how to this day she still doesn't know how any of the tricks were done.

I figured that was a good time to get started. My mom asked me if I would start, anyways, so it worked out perfectly.

I started out with a pen through dollar routine. That left my grandpa literally speechless. I then followed it up with a couple of coin tricks. For each coin trick I used a different spectator, and those worked out pretty well. I then did a few more card tricks. I finished the cards up with a transposition that went over really well.
After that I did a dollar bill routine, and that was pretty much my finisher. I ended up doing one more card trick quite a while later. Then, as everyone was getting ready to go home I did a coin vanish and followed up with some work with the D'Lites. My grandpa and aunt really were in awe of the D'Lites. They had literally no idea what was going on.

I thought for a first ever real performance, it worked out pretty well. I need to work on delivery still, and I need to find some way to string the effects together in a logical way. It seemed like a lot of "Hey, look at this!!! Now, look at this!!!" The tricks went off without a hitch, though, so that was nice. I think everyone had a pretty good time.

I'll keep working on the tricks and maybe do some more around Christmas when everyone gets together.

Monday, November 2, 2009

WHOA!!! What a Finish!!!

So, in my first private league I ended up holding onto my lead and winning 121-100. That brings my record in that league to 4-4. That should move me into fourth place in that league, which puts me into prime position for midway through the season.

In my second private league, MY team came back to win by a final score of 68-58. That brings me to 3-5 and breaks a three game losing streak. That should move me into 16th place...but hey, a win is a win!!!

My OTHER team in that league led 50-47 going into the game tonight, and somehow held on for a 57-54 win. That brings me to a 6-2 record with that team and keeps me holding on strong to second place.

In my first public league, I won by over 55 points to climb to 6-2 and stay in a three way tie for first place.

In my second public league, I won by 35 points to climb to 7-1. The big news in that league, however, is that the guy in first place FINALLY lost today, so him and I are now tied for first place in the league.

So, after a down week last week, I ended up going a good strong 5-0 this week. That takes my overall record to 26-14 through 8 weeks. That's not too bad.

I also hold strong at 23 points ahead in the Pick'em league after this weeks games. So that's looking pretty good right now, too.

So, all in all it was a GREAT week for FFL for me!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

So It's Been a Few Weeks...

...since I last updated about Fantasy Football.

To be quite honest, that's because last week was a really bad week for me as far as the leagues went.

I lost in my first private league to drop to 3-4, and fall into sixth place.

In my second private league, MY team lost it's third in a row to fall to 2-5 and 18th place. My OTHER team won to climb to 5-2 and second place.

In my first public league I lost to fall to 5-2 and I'm in a four way tie for first place.

In my second public league I won to climb to 6-1 and I'm still in second place.

That means that last week I was 2-3...not really a very good week.

So after seven weeks, I am a combined total of:
21-14, not really that great, but not really that bad either.

Also last week in my Pick'em league I pushed my lead to 21 points. I didn't get the most points of the week, but the guy that did missed making picks a few weeks ago so he's so far behind it doesn't really even matter.


This week has been a bit of a different story. So far it's been a pretty good week, overall. Of course there is a game tomorrow, but I don't think it should hurt me TOO much overall.

In my first private league I lead by 41 points. He still has Drew Brees and Michael Turner to play, who can put up a ton of points, but I have Pierre Thomas who can also put up some good numbers. I'm thinking I've got about a 60% chance of winning this one, which would push me to 4-4 in that league.

In my second private league, MY team is getting beat 43-21. However, I still have Drew Brees, Roddy White, and Jason Elam to play. They are projected to get 43 points. He still has New Orleans' defense, which is projected to get 10 points. If the players all get close to their projections, I'll win by a few points and climb to 3-5. My OTHER team is in a good game...I lead by three with Jeremy Shockey left to play. He's got Mike Bell and John Carney to play. If they get their projections, I'll lose...which will drop me to 5-3.

In my first public league I have won 96-40. That will pull me up to 6-2, and I will remain in a tie for first place, but one of the four teams will end up falling out of the tie because two of them are playing each other. So it will probably be a three way tie at 6-2.

In my other public league I lead 110-91. I still have Marques Colston to play and he is done...so that is another win that will push me up to 7-1 and at worst in second place. The guy that is in first is losing, so I could be tied for first after the game tomorrow night.

So, I'm guaranteed two wins. I'm ahead by a large amount in one leauge, which should be my third win this week. I'm within striking distance in another league, which should give me four...and then one I should lose which should make me 4-1 this week. Of course, I COULD lose all three of those games that are still up in the air...but I could win them, too.

Also, in the Pick'em league I have padded my lead even more. I have pushed my lead to 24 points. The guys in second and third place keep flip-flopping back and forth every week, but they haven't seemed to be able to close on me very much. They both have a better win-loss pick record, but they aren't doing as well placing those confidence points.

Looks all around like it's going to be a better week...I guess we'll see after that game tomorrow night!!