Monday, August 31, 2009

One Week...

Today is exactly one week before we will be in Las Vegas. Actually, as I type this, we would probably be just getting done getting up to the hotel and checking in and such.

The fact that there are exactly seven days left till we get there means that there are only four more days of work, also.


Still Haven't Gotten Out on the Surfboarder...

So I was planning on going out boarding today, and it was wonderful weather for it.

But I also had to mow the back lawn, which was beginning to look slightly like a rain forest. Seriously, some of the grass had gotten well over a foot tall. It of course was laying down on itself so it didn't LOOK that tall, but it was. I guess that's what happens when you plan to mow on your two days off and both days it rains all day. It had probably been over two weeks since I last mowed back there.

So I set out to do that around 4 or so, and it took me nearly two hours. It seemed like about every 20 feet I had to stop and let the mower unclog grass out of itself so that it wouldn't stall.

After that much time mowing, I was pretty tired!! I haven't had that much of a problem mowing the lawn in a LONG time.

So instead of being able to get out and have some fun on my board, I mowed the lawn. Oh well, I guess that's a little bit of exercise too, right??

I figure that maybe on Thursday or Friday, before we go to Vegas, maybe I'll head over to the park here...or maybe I'll go explore some of those other options that I thought of in that earlier post!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Weather's Been Keeping... off of the Surfboarder, which sucks, because that's one of the main ways that I had been planning on getting into better shape.

A couple of things have been keeping me from getting out on the board as much as I would like...first off is a lot of rain lately, and second is the fact that now whenever we get home from work it's already a bit too dark to board. I have a light hooked up to the Big Stick, but it's only one of those jogging lights. It does a good job of showing cars where I am, but it doesn't do a very good job of showing me anything that might be in the way while it's dark on the road.

I really still enjoy boarding with the Big Stick. If you know me, you know that I have a habit of picking up a hobby then just kind of stopping in a very short amount of time. However, with the Big Stick, I am still going pretty strong. I really like getting out with the stick on the Surfboarder. I actually have gone over to the walking trail a couple of times and it's one of the better places that I've found to paddle. 99% of the trail is really nice smooth pavement. The other 1% could stand to be repaved...that doesn't include, of course, the wood bridges that go over the water. I found that last time I went there I ended up paddling around the whole thing twice, which as best I can tell is about 2.6 miles. I wanted to do at least three laps, but it was getting really hot out when I did it.

I actually have enjoyed paddling so much that I think I'm going to ask Cathy for a bamboo Big Stick for Christmas. After talking with Dave from, I have determined that I would actually be better off with a 6' Stick instead of the 5'6" one that I have. The bamboo Stick also has a bit more snap, which should help me get going faster. Dave told me that his 5 mile paddle had been taking him about an hour with the 5'6" Stick, but as soon as he switched to the 6' bamboo Stick, he cut that time down to less than 45 minutes. That means that before he had been doing about 5 miles an hour with the shorter stick, but with the longer bamboo Stick he's up to nearly 7 miles per hour. I would like to get going faster if I had the opportunity.

I think over the next few weeks (when we're not in Vegas) I'm going to start trying to find a few more places to paddle. I have two in Lansing in is at a park with a small lake near an apartment that I lived at for a while, and the other is the River Walk in Lansing which is a great trail for bike riding, but I'm not sure how awesome it would be for paddling. I also want to check out a park near my parents home that they took me through once. It seemed like it might be PERFECT for some land paddling.

Oh yah, I forgot to mention, Dave has actually put part of my review up as the main description for the Surfboarder. That's pretty cool.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sailing Lessons??

So learning how to sail has been one of those things on my list of "Life's To Dos" that I have had for a LONG time. I grew up spending endless summers on a lake, and we ALWAYS had a boat...but it was usually a speed boat. Of course there was the aluminum fishing boat, the pontoon experiment, the paddle boat, and now of course I have my kayaks.

With that said, I have been really wanting to get a boat of some kind for the last few years. I toyed with the idea of getting a speed boat...there are numerous GREAT examples of them on Craig's List right now for under $5k, which is what I would be looking to spend. But then I started much fun as it would be to have another motorboat of some kind, I wouldn't be able to have as much fun on it as I remember because with only Cathy and I using it most of the time, there wouldn't be much of an opportunity for me to do any water sports like skiing or tubing...or better yet, learning to wakeboard.

So I thought, what the heck, let me look at some sailboat options. I was really surprised to see the price differences between motor boats and sailboats. You can get a relatively nice 26 foot long sailboat for the same price as an average looking 120hp speed boat. I figure the difference in the prices obviously has to do with the fact that motors for boats are very expensive.

So after a bit of looking, I found a company right here in Michigan that makes and sells smaller sailboats with trailers and everything. For right around $3k you can get a brand new 14 foot sailboat from this company that looks fantasic, holds four adults, and has built in storage in a few spots on it.

So I started thinking that maybe a sailboat was a good option. The other plus side to the sailboat is that I could actually put it on a trailer and pull it with the Taurus...where a motor boat would have to be left at the cottage pretty much full time. So the motor boat wouldn't be able to be taken to many other lakes, but the sailboat would be able to be taken pretty much anywhere.

Now that I started thinking that a sailboat was a good option, I realized that I don't know much about sailing. I know you use the wind, and that by taking back and forth you can actually travel effectively into the wind, but I don't really know what all the lines, keels, rudders, and sails are for. I began looking for sailing schools here in Michigan and I found one that seems like a good one.

It's in St. Clair Shores, Michigan and it costs $300 for the two day school. When you complete the test at the end of the second day, you become an ASA Certified sailor. I sent a message to the resident sailing guru on about the class to see if it was a good option. He told me if I was interested in learning, it's a great class...and better than that, the price he said is fantastic!! The marina that he keeps his 38 foot sailboat in down in South Carolina charges $800 for the exact same class.

With all of this said, I think that maybe next spring this would be something cool for Cathy and I to do together. The class is two days long and it's very close to several hotels, so we could stay in a hotel if we wanted...but even better is that they'll let you rent a sailboat overnight and stay on the boat, which I think is a really cool option for a sailing school.

10 Days Ago...

...I posted about it being time for me to start trying to get a bit more healthy.

After 10 days, I have to say I'm fairly proud of myself. I had been drinking at least 60 ounces of regular soda everyday for about as long as I can remember. At an average of 110 calories per 8 ounces, that means I was taking in at least 800 or so calories everyday in just soda.

In these 10 days, I can literally count on one hand the number of non-diet drinks that I've had, other than milk or tea. I had Sierra Mist at Pizza Hut today, I had Lemonade the other day with lunch, I had Coke from McDonalds, Dr. Pepper from Subway, and an energy drink the other morning when I was feeling really sluggish.

So basically, in 10 days I've had as much non-diet stuff to drink as I normally would in any one day.

It's a small step, and I'm still not 100% sure I like diet soda, but if it's going to get me a bit more healthy, then here's to it!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Reason Number 14,241...

...that I hate Michigan.

We got a call the other day from the car dealership that I needed to stop by. So today I did, and I found out that there had been a bit of an issue with the title to the Kia when I traded it in.

See, when I got divorced two years ago, I got the Kia financed in just my name as it had been financed in both of our names. The lady at the bank when I refinanced it said that I would get the new title in just my name in the mail. Well, about a week later I got a title, but it was the same one that I had before, only with some new stamps on it. I didn't really think much of it. I figured that the title was fine because my ex had signed off on it, the bank had released the original lien, and I was listed as the owner with a stamp from the bank as the new lien holder. So I figured that everything with it was absolutely fine.

When I was at the dealership buying the Ford, they also thought that everything would be fine. They told me that they would call me if there were any troubles. Well, apparently something happened and they couldn't get the title transferred, so they called. I went today to get the situation taken care of. They initially wanted me to file for a lost title, but that would have required me to get my ex's signature, which really wasn't an option. So I offered to take the title down to the Secretary of State and just get everything squared away there. They told me it would cost $15 to get the title changed around and then just have it mailed to them and they'd get everything all set.

So I headed over to the SoS, which is always a pain anyways. I get there and I'm number 49...they're on number 18. Luckily that went pretty quickly. I only waited about 20 minutes or so, maybe 25, but either way it wasn't very bad. Then I go to the counter and explain the situation. The lady tells me that it's going to be $15 for the title...$20 if I want one printed right then. She then asks me who the person that is signing off on the title is, and I tell her it's my ex. She then asks if I have the copy of the divorce decree that states that I get the Kia. I tell her no, and she then tells me that I have to pay 3% sales tax to get the car titled in just my name. Apparently whenever you are taking a name off of a title, you have to pay sales tax on the fair market value of the car. Of course, I didn't have a copy of the divorce decree with me...and even if I did, it wouldn't help. See, when we got divorced, we worked everything out before any paperwork was filed and the car was given to me effectively before the divorce occurred, so the divorce decree wouldn't have shown that I was given the car in the divorce anyways.

So she asks me what the fair market value of the car is, and I tell her $1,000. I figure if I'm going to have to pay tax on an item that I've already paid tax on, I'm not going to pay much tax. She then explains that she can enter whatever I tell her for tax purposes, but if the state decides to audit the transaction they will charge 175% of the amount that they determine is the tax based on their determination. So I then decided that the fair market value of the car would be $2500, which resulted in a tax payment due of $75.

So I paid the $75 and the $20 to get a title printed out right there. I then ran that over to the dealership and signed off on it so that the whole situation could be over with.

I'm really, REALLY upset that I had to pay $75 sales tax on a vehicle that I paid $600 sales tax on when I first bought it. I don't really understand how the state can get away with something like this. It's basically taxing someone twice for the same thing, which is absolutely ridiculous to me.

I guess I'm just going to chalk it up to another reason to hate this godforsaken state. I have to admit that I was VERY rude to the lady working there after she explained all of this to me. I know it's not her fault, but she knowning works for an entity that is basically in charge of legally ripping off normal people.

Some Xbox Live Arcade Games...

So after having played a TON of "Red Faction" since it came out a few months ago, I was itching to give something else a go.

I had some spare Microsoft Points laying around, so I figured maybe I'd try a few Live Arcade Games.

The first was "Battlefield 1943." It's an online only first person shooter set guessed it...1943. It's made by a company that has a ton of experience putting together solid FPS games, but I was a bit concerned by the fact that it was a download only game. Boy, those concerns were off. I've been playing it quite a bit and I actually really enjoy it. It can be a bit frustrating, because there are quite a few players that are MUCH better than I am, but overall it's a solid title, and at $15 you really can't beat it.

The other game that I got is called "Shadow Complex." This game is a 3d rendered 2d action platformer game. Think "Contra" from back in the NES days. This game got really good reviews...and it definitely didn't disappoint. I ended up downloading it when I got home from work on Wednesday, and I'm not going to lie...I didn't even go to sleep before I beat it. I played it for probably about 5 hours straight to get it done on the easiest level, but it was five hours of gaming bliss. The game is awesome, in a retro way that I think should be done more often.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cascades Walking Path...

So today I packed up the Wagon with the Big Stick and the Surfboarder and headed to Cascades Park.

If you've been following my blog for a long time, you'll know that Cascades is where Cathy and I got married at. It's a nice big park. It's got a really nicely paved walking/bike path that goes around a marshy area in the center of the park. This path is really nice and smooth, it's got a good mix of hills and flats, and it's really easy to move around on.

I decided a few weeks ago that I really wanted to try boarding on the path. So today was gorgeous outside and I decided it would be perfect for it. I went by myself, Cathy didn't really want to ride her bike while I paddled, so I could go at any pace that I really wanted. I found out pretty quickly that there's a few really steep hills on the path...hills that were steep enough that I had trouble PUSHING up them with my foot...let alone with the paddle. But the flats and slight downhills were excellent for paddling on!!! There wasn't much traffic on the path, so I didn't have to worry about slowing down to get out of people's way very often. I also didn't get harassed about skating on the path, which was a bit of a concern that I had.

The path was great...but I guess I never really realized how short it was. It only took maybe...15 or 20 minutes...tops to get around the whole thing once. I guess I probably should have gone around a couple of times, but I figured that it was just a good quick work out. Next time I go, I'll try to get around three times.

All in all, it's a great place to paddle. I just wish it was a little bit longer...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

So The Garage... all clean!!!

Yup, I managed to get it so that we can easily fit both cars in there, the Ninja, the Champ, my tools, my longboards, both bicycles, and a few other random things without anything really being difficult to get to.

The Ninja ended up getting moved to the front of the garage, so in order to get it out you have to pull at least one of the cars out of the garage, which is a bit of a hassle, but it also provides some more security for when the garage is open. It would be VERY difficult for someone to get the Ninja out of the garage while both cars are in there.

The longboards got spots on the wall hanging from some heavy duty hooks. The bicycles hang above the Taurus. The tools are all in the front corner next to the Ninja, and the Champ is in the other front corner.

I'm pretty happy with the way it all turned out. The Taurus still seems like it just barely fits in there, front to back, but there's plenty of room on either side of both cars, so getting in and out of them isn't too difficult.

It's nice to be able to put both cars in the garage. Like today after I had the Taurus in there for a while we decided to go get some groceries, and it wasn't disgustingly hot inside the car because it had been in the garage. It also will be nice for keeping the Taurus out of the rain and out of the snow in the winter.

I'd been meaning to clean up the garage for quite a while, the new Taurus just gave me a good reason to actually get around to it!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Some Work Done...

So having the Taurus made me really want to be able to park in the garage. We've had two cars in there before, but the garage has been taken over by junk, two motorcycles, a scooter, two bicycles, and a couch.

So yesterday while I was waiting for Dale to come pick up the Suzuki, which was surely going to create a little bit of room, I decided to get some cleaning done.

After a good couple of hours, I can actually fit both cars into the garage...but it's a tight fit right now. I still need to move a few things around in order to get it setup so that we can easily get into both cars. I think that the Ninja and the scooter need to be moved around a little bit in order to get everything in there without having to squeeze into things. I also need to rearrange my tools a little bit so that they aren't quite as strewn about.

Once I get those couple of things done, I'm sure I'll be able to fit everything in there with room to hopefully this Thursday I'll get it all set!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So It's Time...

...for me to get serious about getting a little bit more healthy.

I started out pretty well when I got the Big Stick and the longboards. I've been using them pretty regularly for the last couple of weeks and I feel that I've gotten slightly better at it. By better, I mean I can go longer distances without getting quite as tired. With that said, it's been tough the last week or so because of weather...too much rain or way too hot. But regardless, it's been good exercise and it's gotten me outside and a bit more active.

With all of that, I haven't really changed my eating habits much. I'm still eating too much fast food and drinking way too much soda. So today was a start of something new. I finished the last two cans of regular soda in the fridge, and I've cracked open a case of diet pop. I'm going to try and do diet pop from now on, and see if that helps kick start the weight loss a little bit. It's going to be hard because I'm really used to drinking quite a bit of pop, but I think I can do it. I just need to keep my mind set on it. Wish me luck!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

So The Suzuki GS is...

This evening a guy named Dale from Ohio drove up and picked up the Suzuki.

I had decided that I was going to let it go for pretty much any price because I wanted to get the garage cleaned out so that we can park the Taurus and the Civic in there at the same time. So I threw it up for sale on the GS message board and Dale contacted me.

I sold it for quite a bit less than what I had into it, but it's alright because I wasn't going to do anything else with it, and I really just wanted it gone.

So in the process of waiting for him to show up I got the garage cleaned up pretty good. On Thursday I'll finish it up and then there should be ample room in there for both cars.

I'm going to use the money to pay off a credit card and maybe buy myself something. But I'm not sure what, maybe I'll save some for the trip to Vegas.

Friday, August 14, 2009


...with the new. That's how the end of the saying goes, right??

So today Cathy and I went and picked up my new (to me) car. It's not really new at all. It's a 2003. It's a Ford. It's a Taurus. It's a station wagon.

That's correct. I bought a 2003 Ford Taurus Wagon SE.

Me. A guy that owns two motorcycles and a scooter. A guy that rides longboards. A guy that loves football. I'm a station wagon owner.

And you know what?? I couldnt' be more happy with it. The car just screams "Jeff" if you ask me. It's a bit of an oddball, peculiar, and a bit out of place. It's not really all that cool, which means that it's pretty much perfect for me.

Over the last several years my ideas about cars have changed. When I was younger I wanted a cool car. I wanted a fast car. You know, the stuff that guys want in cars. But over the last few years I really started to look at a car as more of just a means from getting from Point A to Point B. I wanted it to be comfortable, nice, quiet, and ride really well.

The Taurus Wagon fits all of those perfectly. It's got a comfortable and smooth ride. It's nice and plush. It's quiet. It's got a nice engine. It's got some bells and whistles that I haven't had in a car in a LONG time.

Things like power seats. Power mirrors. Power windows. Keyless entry. Automatic transmission. V6 engine. Those are all things that I haven't had on a car in nearly seven years.

It also has several things that I've never had with a car before. Remote start for starters. I've put them in and known people that had it, but I've never had one myself. It's also got more room than any car I've ever had. It's got six seats in it. The optional third seat folds down into the back when you want to store stuff in the back end.

Basically, the car is pretty much perfect for me. It's in GREAT shape. Yes, it's a 2003...but it's only got 45,000 on the clock. I asked the auto guru that we work with about the car, and he said that the car should be really solid and go forever with just basic maintenance. It's really clean. Not many dings or scratches at all, and the small ones that are there I'm pretty sure will be able to be easily covered up with some nice wax and buffing work. The price was right and the car just seemed to fit for us, so we went ahead and picked it up.

We got it today just after 1:00 in the afternoon. We took it up to Lansing and my parents couldn't believe it was a 2003. It really does look that good.

I'll miss the Kia...but I welcome the Ford!!!


...with the old. That's how the saying goes, isn't it??

So I have had my trusty Kia Rio since September of 2002. It was brand new. My first brand new car. With that said, it's not exactly in the greatest shape anymore. It's been through 7 years of Michigan winters and I have to admit that I wasn't the greatest owner. The last three years have been the roughest. Maybe it's because it was getting driven a lot more, or maybe it's because it was a $9,000 car that was getting up there in years.

It's check engine light had been on for a long time. Four flat tires in the span of about 8 months. A flat spare tire to boot. The brakes had gotten bad. Changed the pads twice and still was having issues. Didn't have the tools to change the rotors.

The floor of the Rio was like a magnet for drinks. It seemed that anytime I had a drink from a fast food place in the car it instantly fell from the drink holder onto the floor of the car.

I gave it a tune up a few weeks ago and it was running much better...but I think it needs a new alternator.

It's also small. And it's a stick, which means that Cathy's not very comfortable with it because she doesn't know how to drive stick and doesn't think she'd like it even if she did.

Last, but not least, a few months back our basketball hoop fell over and did a pretty good gouging on the passenger side of the car. It seemed like it was getting to the point where the car was the vehicular version of Murphy's Law.

So, after nearly seven years of my Kia being a nice, small, loyal car...I figured it was time for me to move on to another vehicle. I felt a bit bad. The Kia had been a good car. I wouldn't hesitate buying another one or recommending the company to anyone looking at them. The car was solid, ran for 71,000 miles without ANY repairs getting done to it (even the check engine light was a $20 item, I just didn't want to mess with putting it in) and really took just about anything that I dished out. It never complained, it just went, and as basic transportation was virtually perfect.

I'll miss you Kia. You were my first new car, and I'll always remember you!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lazy Day...

So today was nice. We both went to bed early last night and slept in a little bit today.

Then we pretty much did nothing all day. Cathy went to the store to look for some shorts for a little while, and we ran to Kohl's and a few other stores really quickly for some groceries.

We had a pretty good dinner. We got some kabobs from Meijer that had a bunch of different peppers, some big hunks of steak, and onions on them. We grilled those up and cooked up some corn to go with it and had a really good dinner. We hadn't ever had the kabobs before, but I think we'll have them again soon. They were really good.

Then for the evening we just kind of settled in for a relaxing bunch of nothing. I took the Surfboarder out for a few minutes, but didn't go too far. Only far enough to claim that I actually went out today...if you know what I mean. Then I grabbed a spot in front of the TV and watched some preseason football.

It's nice to have days off where you don't really do anything at all. As a matter of fact, this day has felt really long, which is odd for a day off. Usually they feel way too short.

Tomorrow we have a few things on the schedule...but I'll save them for another post!!

District 9

So "District 9" has been on my movie radar since a few weeks before I saw the first trailer on TV. I happened to accidentally find a trailer for it online, and thought that it looked pretty cool. Then a few weeks later I started seeing it getting a bit more advertisement time.

The idea behind it seems strong. The producer is one of the best. And if the "Halo" short films that are out there are any indication, the director is talented.

The movie comes out this Friday, and currently on it's got a ranking of 97% after 32 different reviews. The only negative review is from a critic that is known for giving bad reviews to good movies. Let's just say he didn't like "The Departed," "The Dark Knight," and several other big time movies that were superb over the last few years.

In case you aren't aware, a score of 97% is amazingly high. That means the movies completely fresh, which means it's awesome. This is the consensus that the website is giving the movie right now: "Consensus: Technically brilliant and socially poignant, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic."

In short, it's got it going on. I hope to get to see it this Friday, but we have some other things to take care of so I don't know if we'll get around to it. If not Friday, then definitely on Monday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Love you, Man

So tonight Cathy and I ran out to Target to buy "I Love You, Man" on DVD. We saw it in the theater, but it was really good, so we figured we'd go get it.

I think this is the first DVD that we have purchased in literally months that we watched as soon as we got home. The movie was just as funny the second time through as it was the first time.

I'm beginning to think that Jason Segel is the funniest actor out there right now. The guy just seems so believable in all the roles that he plays.

If you are looking for a few good laughs, definitely check it out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cathy's Blog...

So Cathy started a blog the other day.

It's located here:

Check it out!

iPod Touch: Real Racing by Firemint

So I have this game on my iPod Touch called "Real Racing." It's made by a company called Firemint...and it's in all honesty the best handheld racing game I've ever played. Nothing on the Nintendo DS or the Sony PSP even comes close to this $10 game on the iPod.

I bought it the other day and I'm just now starting to get deep into the game. It has lots of cars (not licensed cars, but you can tell pretty much what they are modeled after), lots of courses, and tons of circuits. To top all of this off, it also has a robust online league mode where you race for times in a single lap on a course and try to place ahead of other people that are in the league. You can do as many laps as you want, but the league only allows that track to be raced for 5 you need to get done before that 5 minutes is up, or you won't be counted for that race.

I raced in my first league today and won by a pretty good margin. The other couple of people in the league weren't doing very well at all, so I'm guessing they were really new to the game, or maybe just not gamers at all.

It's also pretty cool because after you finish a race, you can upload it to YouTube for everyone to watch. Here's my best race, and this one was pretty good except for one small moment where I go off the track.

Check it out!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Must be Getting Old...

So I have been thinking a lot lately about possibly trying to get a new car. Not necessarily a NEW new car, but a new to me car.

I want something a bit bigger than the Kia, and I really would like an automatic so that Cathy can drive it easily if she needs to.

I'm a big fan of a few pretty "basic" American mid-sized sedans. I like the Ford Taurus and the Chevy Impala an awful lot. I think they are good looking functional cars that just have classic lines and not a lot of flash.

So as I was driving home from the water park today, I decided that maybe I should go out and explore some options. Cathy suggested that I look at the dealership that she bought her Civic from a few years ago and see if they had anything that I liked. So I checked out their website and found a car that I liked quite a bit. Miles are right, price is right, it's nice and clean. So we set out to go check it out, even though we knew the dealership was closed.

When we got there we found it right away and we looked it over. The interior is spotless. The exterior is flawless. Nice wheels. Nice tires. Lots of options that I'm not used to, like power locks and windows and stuff.

So, what is this car?? And why must I be getting old??

Well, for starters it's a Ford Taurus...but you should already know that this was a possibility if you've read the rest of this post.

So what could possibly make me say I'm getting old??

What if it was a Ford Taurus...station wagon???

I don't know why, but I'm really attracted to the car. Maybe it's because it's a nice big vehicle, completely different than either of the cars we have now. Maybe it's because it's got all kinds of uses that I can think of with the wagon more dogs in the back seat, kayaks in the rear area, things like that. But I think most of all, I like it because it's different. I've always liked things that are a little bit further off of other people's radars. A car like this is like that. It's cool, in it's own odd kind of way.

I think we're going to go test drive it on Thursday. If it drives nicely, maybe we'll try and work out some kind of deal.

Here's an edit...I just checked out my insurance, and surprisingly, the Taurus would actually be CHEAPER to insure than what I'm currently paying on my that's another positive to moving up to this car. It's a year newer, a lot more powerful, and a lot bigger...but it's cheaper to insure. Go figure.


So today sucked. They for some reason decided that even though it was 91 degrees with a heat index of 102 outside that the airport didn't need to have any air conditioning going. To make it worse, where I was working was even hotter than the rest of the building. I'm guessing it was at least 84 degrees inside the building, with humidity through the roof.

So when we got out, we just decided that we were going to go to McDonald's for dinner. I figured we'd stop on the way home at the one around the corner from us because it looked like it was going to rain.

Well, it did start raining about 20 minutes before we got to Jackson, but it wasn't too bad. But, when we turned onto the street that the McDonald's is on, we heard tornado sirens. So we decided just to head home instead of getting the food right then.

So we headed home, and when we got there the wind was going crazy!!!

I ended up going to McDonald's to get us some food about 30 minutes later. While I was there, the guy working told me that there were apparently three tornadoes spotted all within about 10 minutes of where we live.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Crappy Weather...

So since I got my awesome Surfboarder, the weather hasn't been very cooperative.

It has rained everyday since I got it, so I haven't had a chance to take it out for a longer ride yet. Tonight, even when it wasn't raining, we were at 100% it wouldn't have been very comfortable to go out in that. It was like walking through soup.

It's supposed to be hot and nasty the next couple of days, as well, which is why I'm looking forward to going to the water park on Monday. But who knows if that will work, because there are supposed to be scattered storms that day as well.

Hopefully by middle of next week I'll have gotten one of the longer rides in on the Surfboarder...I'm itching to do it!!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

iPod Touch..

So I have had a pretty crappy 60gig iPod Classic for a while now. I don't like it. It's a piece of junk. It doesn't work very well, takes a long time to do things like change songs, and needs to be reset an awful lot.

So I told Cathy that I was going to buy myself an iPod Touch because it seemed so cool that she had ordered one for herself. She then told me that I had just ruined a surprise, because she had in fact ordered me an 8gig iPod Touch at the same time that she had ordered her 16gig. Of course I was sad that I had ruined the surprise, but I was exstatic that she had ordered one for me!! I wanted to get one before the plane trip to Vegas, so this works out perfectly!!

Well, it came in the mail today (she got overnight shipping for $4.00) and we both had a great time playing with them. I would say that we spent the majority of the day playing with the devices, and so far we are both really happy with them.

One thing that Cathy and I both really enjoy is playing video games. And even though it's designed as a music and media device, the Touch isn't a slouch when it comes to games. We each got several of them, and both of us would say that the games for it easily rival some of the games that we play on the Nintendo DS. I'm really impressed by all of the games that I have purchased for it in just this one day.

I have a jet fighter game called "F.A.S.T." that uses the accelerometers in the Touch to control the planes movements. I also got a racing game called "Fast and Furious" that uses the accelerometers to make the entire device act like a steering wheel. I got a game called "Minigore" that is a shooter similar to "Geometry Wars" on the Xbox 360 Arcade. I also got a game called "Hero of Sparta" which is a hack and slash game similar to "God of War" on the PS2.

You may be wondering why I got so many games...well, that's easy. It's because they aren't very expensive. On the four games that I bought, I spent a total of $5.30. Yup, three of the games were only 99 cents and one was $1.99.

This makes these games seem even more amazing, because I would fully expect to pay $20 or more for a similar game on the Nintendo DS or the PSP. The "Hero of Sparta" game has graphics that rival anything on the PSP, and they are probably better than anything on DS. The "F.A.S.T." game easily surpases anything, graphics wise, on any handheld I've ever seen. And the "Fast and Furious" game would easily match up with any racing game on a PSP or DS. "Minigore" is sold for the DS, but it's called "Geometry Wars," and it sells for $20.

So, needless to say, as a gaming device the Touch is easily able to go toe to toe with the big dogs in the handheld industry.

Oh yah, it's also a great music player. It's nice to have a device that actually works so that I can listen to music while mowing again.

I'm really happy that Cathy surprised me with this...I wasn't expecting it at all, and it's AWESOME!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Surfboarder...

So today the Surfboarder arrived via UPS. Here is the review that I wrote for Dave at SoCal Skater about it.

If I had to choose one single word to describe the Surfboarder, that word would be this:

I purchased a 39.5" Pintail from Dave about a month or so ago. I got it quickly and was very impressed with the product and the overall service. I then purchased a product from a company called Kahuna Creations called a Big Stick. The Big Stick is used to emulate stand up paddleboarding on land, and it does an excellent job of that. I was using the Pintail with the Big Stick and having a lot of fun, but I wanted something a bit larger so that I could move my feet around a little bit more.

I contacted Dave via e-mail to ask him if he had any longer or larger boards available, and he got right back with me and let me know he had a "surfboard style board" that was over 47" long and 14.5" wide. I loved the length, but the width caught me off guard. I was like "Say what?" So I asked him if he had any pictures, to which he almost instantly sent me the images that are listed on his site now. I was instantly in awe at the looks of the board. Holes for the wheels?? Really?? AWESOME!!!! I asked him how much it would sell for, and he told me, and I bought one right away. Keep in mind these questions about prices and pictures were all asked because the board was not yet on the site.

I got the board today, about one week after I ordered it, and according to Dave I am the first person to actually own one of these boards. I ripped it out of the box and stared at it in awe. It looked even cooler in person than it does in the pictures. Long. Wide. Sturdy. It's an amazing board to look at.

So I took it out to the street with my Big Stick, which was the primary reason for buying the board. I stood on it and it was instantly ready to carve. The standard trucks on it are a bit more carvy than the revers kingpin trucks that are on my Pintail, and the board dives into turns with ease. I was easily able to do circles in the small street that I live on, which I can't do with the Pintail...yet.

I then decided to give it a go with the land paddle...and it's amazingly awesome. It's a bit slower than the Pintail, more than likely because of the added weight and the smaller wheels, but nothing that you can't make up with an extra paddle here and there. It turns amazingly, maintains it's momentum well, and is nice and stable.

I was instantly impressed with how sturdy the deck is. I could put all my weight in the center of it and get hardly any flex, which is good for someone paddling. If you have a lot of flex while you paddle, you'll be wasting a bit of energy when the board flexes.

Another thing that I thoroughly love about the deck is the ability to move my feet around to where ever I want them. I tend to want to paddle with my feet almost as if I'm just standing and facing forward. On the Pintail this is impossible because of it's width, but on the Surfboarder you can stand pretty much however you want. I found that I would keep my left foot just in front of the rear wheel hole and my right foot just behind the front wheel hole and I had amazing stability, but also didn't have to twist as much when paddling on my backhand side as I do with the Pintail.

When I made it to smoother pavement, I was actually able to do something that I didn't think I'd be able to do on a longboard. I was able to actually stand with my feet right next to each other and paddle down the road, just like one would do on an actual stand up paddleboard. I was able to do this with ease and without feeling unstable at all. However, when I got onto a bit rougher streets I found that this wasn't very confidence inducing, as I felt that if I hit a large crack I'd just go flying forward, so I just moved back to my other foot position and continued right on paddling away.

Another awesome thing about the board is the fact that the wheels are completely covered by the deck. Because of this fact, there is literally no way that you can get the Big Stick stuck in the wheels, which always leads to a fall.

I used the board for only a quick trip this afternoon, so I can't comment on it's long ride ability. I have a trip that I take that is about 3 miles, and I'll be doing that soon on the Surfboarder...however, I don't see any reason at all that the board won't function perfectly for that trip.

I can't say enough good things about this board. It's quite simply surreal. I can't believe how awesome it is for land paddling, which was EXACTLY what I was looking for. I also can't believe how awesomely it turns.

This board is, without a doubt, a perfect product to match up with a Kahuna Big Stick. I can't say enough good things about it, but the fact that this review is now about 25 pages long, I think I'll go back to that original word:


Water Park...

So on Monday I think I'm going to head up to Lansing to visit the East Lansing Family Aquatic Center.

It's a small water park with a few slides, some castle type things to climb on, and some pools. It's pretty nice and not very expensive. My mom asked me tonight if Cathy and I would want to go, because my sister, brother in law, and nephew are coming in on Friday and they are all going on Monday.

I don't really know if Cathy wants to go. She didn't seem to excited by the idea when I mentioned it, but I think I'll go up there for it. It's a fun park. I've been there a few times, and I really enjoyed it. I like swimming quite a bit, but don't get much of a chance to do it anymore.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shark Week, Part II...

So I've been paying attention to the blog that I posted on yesterday regarding sharks, and one poster brought up something that I hadn't really noticed. I haven't gotten much of a chance to actually watch much "Shark Week" this year. I'm planning on watching the reruns on my days off to get caught up on the new stuff.

But this guy had a good point. Most of the shows this year are portraying sharks as a violent, viscous killer. This type of media isn't going to help the shark's case. But the shows almost all have "Eaten Alive," "Blood," "Killer," or "Most Dangerous" in their names. Now, I know that part of this is all to make money, but I feel that these types of shows have a purpose, but they should be shown along with other programming that portrays the shark in more positive light.

Here is what I posted on the blog after I realized this, thanks to the poster's comments:

"George P.

You know, you're right. I wrote that post before I had watched much of the episodes of "Shark Week" this year...darned work has made it difficult for me to find time, but tonight I caught up on all of the premieres, and I must say I'm a bit disappointed at the general direction that Discovery has seemed to go with this years shows. They are in fact depicting these creatures in a negative light. I can only hope that over the next few nights Discovery can begin to redeem itself with some truly good programming that goes in depth about these creatures and what they do FOR the planet instead of what they do TO people.

I think that everyone out there could learn a thing or two from Dr. Erich Ritter. He was the guy that was attacked by the bull shark in "Anatomy of a Shark Bite" a few years ago and was on again tonight (Tuesday) in "Top 5 Eaten Alive." Erich Ritter had his left calf literally ripped from his leg by a bull shark, and what did he do?? He got right back into the water, in the same spot, with the same sharks. If a man that had his life changed forever by one of these animals can forgive and forget, and get back in the water, then maybe all of us can learn something from him.

If you want to see something that will truly make you wonder what's going on in the world, watch the documentary "Shark Water." Twenty-nine year old diver/director Rob Stewart will show you some things that you'll wish weren't's truly a great documentary that shows some things that other shows and documentaries probably would never even touch.

Unfortunately for these creatures, they might not have an awful lot of time left. In my research that I've been doing over the last several days, many scientists are suggesting that a majority of the species of sharks out there could be extinct within the next 10 years. That's a terrible tragedy for this planet, and mankind should be ashamed for allowing this to happen.

Only through education can we start to combat the misinformation and fear that surrounds these creatures. Start with this...ask everyone you know this question: "How many unprovoked shark attacks occur WORLDWIDE every year, and how many deaths result from them?" I asked this to several coworkers today and got answers ranging from "Several hundred deaths and 1,000 attacks to 1,000 attacks and a 'zillion' deaths."

In reality, the average number of YEARLY shark attacks WORLDWIDE is less than 70. That's right. Less than 70 humans get bit by sharks while just minding their own business. Of these 70, only 5 die. So sharks are getting a reputation as man eaters and killers while they are doing less damage to the human race than just about any other cause of death out there. Of the millions of people that swim in the ocean, only 70 every year get bit by a shark. That's a pretty small number...yet the shark is painted as a ruthless, mindless, heartless's just wrong.

It's 2009. It's time to start loving these creatures for what they are, not hating them for what they aren't."

It really is time for us to start valuing these animals more than we do. I think I'm going to start looking around for ways that I can help with conservation of these animals.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Great Deal on a New Game...

So I had been looking for a new single player game to play through. I'm pretty much done with "Red Faction" on the single player front...I still play "Red Faction" as my primary online game, but I just wanted something to play by myself when none of my team is online in "Red Faction."

So I had it narrowed down to a few titles. I was looking at "Tom Clancy's Endwar" which is a real time strategy game, "Dynasty Warriors Six: Empires" which is an action game, and "Brothers in Arms" which is a first person shooter.

When I was at Best Buy this evening to pick one out, they had "Brothers in Arms" on clearance for $25. "Dynasty Warriors" is pretty much brand new, but it's only $40 to begin with. "Endwar" was $30. So all three games are bargain priced, so price wasn't really a factor.

They had a special edition of "Endwar" for the PS3 on clearance for 50% off of it's $90 price tag...but they didn't have any for the Xbox 360 on that clearance end cap, so I figured the Xbox one wasn't on clearance. Then Cathy noticed that they had some copies of the Xbox special edition in a different spot, but they still had the yellow 50% off sticker. I asked the worker in the games section if they were 50% off even though they weren't on that shelf, and he said they were.

So I now had the opportunity to get the special edition of "Endwar" for $45 for the Xbox. The only really "special" thing about the copy is that it comes with the Xbox 360 Wireless Headset, which is a $50 value by itself. I've had the wireless headset before, and really didn't like it though, so I wasn't sure if the special edition was worth it.

But then I had a thought...why not get the special edition and sell the headset on Ebay to make up some of the cost of the product, and likely make the game less than the $30 that it would cost otherwise. I didn't know if the headset in the package was packaged like the headset normally is, or if it was packaged differently. But I figured that on Ebay even a used one in good shape should go for about $20 or so, which would bring the price of the game down to $25.

I bought the game and took it home. When I got home, I opened it and found that luckily the headset was packaged exactly as it would be in the store. So I quickly set up a Buy It Now auction on Ebay with the price at $40.

I then went and made the post about sharks on that other guy's blog, and posted a copy of it here on my blog. When I went back to my iGoogle page, I had an e-mail with an instant payment. It was for the headset. That's right, it sold in less than 25 minutes, for the $40 that I was asking for it.

So basically, I bought a $45 special edition and then sold half of it an hour later for $40. So in the end I got the game "Endwar" which retails for $30 for a grand total of $5.00. Not too bad, if I do say so myself!!!

Shark Week...

So "Shark Week" is going on right now on the Discovery Channel. "Shark Week" has long been one of my favorite weeks for TV on Discovery, because I am fascinated by and love sharks.

I was searching around the net today and I found a blog post by a guy at the Baltimore Sun where he asks why people are interested in "Shark Week." Now, normally, I don't post on random blogs that I found, but I found it necessary for me to make a comment.

Here's what I wrote, and this is why I love "Shark Week" so much.

"I watch for several reasons. First off, sharks are much more important to our ecosystem than most people understand. I'm willing to be that 100% of the people out there that you ask "What provides the most oxygen for our atmosphere?" would respond "The rain forest, or some other forest." That's incorrect. Green algae and other forms of algae provide over 70% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. The problem is, as sharks numbers dwindle, the amount of algae that's in the ocean is also going down, because there aren't enough predators to kill off the fish that eat the algae. So as we continue to destroy the sharks natural habitat, and continue to kill them for no good reason, we are also depleting the things that create most of the air that we breathe.

Second, sharks are beautiful, streamlined, majestic creatures. In fact, they are by very definition a perfect creature. They are immune to many diseases. They are camouflaged perfectly. They have adapted to whichever ocean they live in perfectly. They are nature's perfect predator. They are the top of the food chain, and they have every reason to be. They've been around since before the dinosaurs, and will more than likely be along well after we have killed ourselves off. They've been on the planet for 450 million years...since before most plants were on the land. That's saying something.

Third, they are one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet. Most people out there have a fear of sharks that comes from nothing other than a certain film that came out in 1975. That film consistently ranks highly on lists of "Top Horror Films" and with good reason. It single handedly made people scared to go in the water. The truth is, most sharks don't really want anything at all to do with people. Shows on "Shark Week" are trying to get the word out about these creatures, and about how most of the things they've seen in THAT movie aren't really accurate.

Fourth, and this to me is the most important reason...there are 90% less sharks in the ocean today than there were just 100 years ago. We are systematically destroying this creature for really no reason. Estimates put shark fishing at around 100 million animals per year. Most of them are fished for nothing more than their fins, then dumped back into the ocean so that they can slowly drown while not being able to swim. Watching "Shark Week" may be one of the only ways that people will be able to remember these creatures when they are gone.
Sharks are more important and more misunderstood than most other animals on the planet. If we don't do something to save them, they will be gone forever and we will begin to see the problems that will cause as our oxygen starts to deplete and then other changes occur in the climate and the atmosphere. "Shark Week" is a great way to get the word out about these beautiful creatures, and knowledge is power. Maybe with things like "Shark Week" going on we'll be able to ask our grandchildren if they saw any sharks while they were visiting the ocean...because at the rate it's going, they'll be gone before we know it."

Remember everyone, sharks aren't one of those cute animals that you see TV commercials about asking for money to help when their numbers start decreasing alarmingly. They aren't like pandas, or koalas, or any of those other furry little guys that everyone sees and goes "Oh, I should donate to help make sure they don't go extinct!!!" They aren't the type of animal that makes people do that, but that doesn't mean that they still don't need our help. Can't find anywhere to donate to help them?? Don't. Just get educated about these wonderful creatures, and try to spread what you learn around so that others can also learn to love them for what they are and why they are the way that they are. Nobody wants to see animals die off...and sharks are no different.

Save sharks, they are more important than most of us will ever know.

It's Fantasy Football Time...

So this year I am actually going to give being a Commissioner a chance. I'm running a league over on that I've also invited a few guys that I work with to be a part of.

So far we've got ten guys involved, which is a pretty good number. I got those guys all set up in the first couple of days, so I'm going to try and see how many I can get. I would like to try and get 16 players so that we can have two divisions of 8 and then a bit longer playoff setup, but if we can't get any more we've got a good solid number right now.

I've got the league setup on Yahoo with just standard scoring and standard options. Of course, like I said we may change to a division league instead of round robin, but that's only if we get more players.

I'm also in another league that is on another message board, and I'm sure I'll get in on one or two Yahoo Public leagues. But this is going to be the first time that I've done the commissioner thing, so I'm really excited about that.

I'm looking to add another Championship to my resume this year...which would make me a back to back Champ for the second time in five years...but let's not get too far ahead of myself!!!!

By the way, it's about time for some football!!!

DJ Hero Renegade Edition

So the special edition of DJ Hero has finally been announced. Unfortunately, no pricing details were announced. But the special edition looks to be pretty awesome, and add some things that may actually make the set worth the extra money.

Instead of the plastic turntable controller, you get one that is made out of metal and it just all around looks a little bit more solid. It also comes in a hard sided briefcase type case that you can transport and store it in. Not only does it come with this case, but this case has legs on it that fold out and down so that you can use the case as a real DJ station. The controller mounts to it so that you don't have to hold the thing in your lap or set it on some other random table.

I think that I may actually try to get the Renegade Edition of this game. I'm looking forward to it quite a bit, and I haven't gotten many Special Edition games recently...but I think this is one that both Cathy and I could enjoy, so maybe this one will warrant a purchase.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

So It's Official...

...I am going to be the first person in the world out there riding a SoCal Skater Surfboarder.

I ordered the longboard the other day and I talked with Dave after I ordered it, and he confirmed that I will be the first person in the world that has actually purchased one. I don't know, that just seems really cool to me. There aren't a lot of times that you get a chance to say that you're the first person in the world to have or do something. Of course, I guess Dave would be the first person in the world that's ever had one, but seeing as he sells it I don't think that really counts.

It should be here on Thursday, and I can't wait to get it. Dave updated his website to show some details about the board, and he mentions on the site that it's a perfect board for land paddling, which is exactly what I intend to use it for. I e-mailed him and let him know that's what I was planning on using it for, and he said if I can get some decent video of me using it to paddle that he could use to show people how it works, that he would send me some free wheels or something.

So when I get it, I'm going to take it to the local park and get some video of it to send to him and see if I can get some free stuff!!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Found Some Air Fare...

So Cathy and I finally found some air fare that we think is affordable for our trip to Vegas. It's on Spirit, which is the same airline as we went on before. It's less than $500 round trip for the both of us, which seems to be by far the best price around.

My mom actually pointed this fare out to us a few weeks ago, but at the time the return trip wasn't really what we were interested in. It gets us back into Detroit at 1am on Saturday, which wasn't really that appealing to us.

But what we decided to do was to take Sunday off as well and just get back early Saturday morning. That way we'll still have some time to recover. It brings us up to 30 hours of leave time that we'll be using, but that's still not bad, considering we'll now have from Sunday until the following Tuesday other words, we'll be using 30 hours of leave and ending up with eight full days off of work!! Nice!!!!