Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day Off...Not Quite as Planned...

Well, it was quite a bit more chilly today than it was supposed to be, so I didn't get a chance to get out and work in the garden. I went to get the stakes that I was going to use to hold the weed block down out of the shed, and I realized that I must have thrown them away when I was cleaning everything up, so I wouldn't have been able to get the stuff down very well anyways.

I did, however, get to the landscaping place to find out some prices. Mulch costs $29 per cubic yard. Delivery is $30. The girl said that for my project, I wouldn't want to go much deeper than 2 or so inches, because the mulch on the bottom can start to rot. So, with that in mind, it looks like we'll probably end up needing about two cubic yards. That means that our cost for the mulch will be $58, and the delivery will take the total up to $88. I also need two more things of the weed block fabric, which will be about $12. So, for a total of $100, we should be able to get the circle garden done the way that we want it to be done.

So that was a good thing.

Now, the bad thing...and I'm going to be honest, this just about ruined my day. While I was wandering around the mall looking for a charger for the Wii remotes, I almost got ran into by a little kid that wasn't paying attention. When I kind of jumped to the side so as not to knock him over, I slammed my Russian Diver watch into the wall...and of course, the wall is made out of some kind of rough concrete. So it scratched the top of my watch all up. Cathy says it doesn't look too bad, but now when I look at my watch all that I see is the scratches on the bezel.

I guess maybe I'll start looking around on Amazon for another one. I had wanted to get another one anyways, but I wanted the other one so that I could have two really nice watches...not to replace one that has been damaged. I have an extra couple hundred bucks in my checking account that is "free" money, so maybe I'll use a little bit of that to get one on the way in just a few days here. I guess I just have to decide which one I want.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Day Off...

Tomorrow I'm taking the day off.

I have some extra leave time to spare, mainly because I earn it faster than Cathy because I've worked at the airport for so much longer than her. For the last three years I've been earning six hours of leave for every four that she earns.

So I have an excess that is quite a bit more than her's. I figured I might as well use a little bit of it so that I don't always have a whole bunch more time than her.

So I decided to take Tuesday off, which will give me a three day weekend. It's supposed to be nice and clear, with a high around 58 or so I think it will be a perfect opportunity to start putting the weed blocker down on the circle garden in the back yard. After that gets done, the only thing that we'll have left to do is to buy some mulch to cover the garden. Then that will be pretty much done. Sure, I still want to get some nice fence to put up behind the garden to block the giant wasps nest that I'm sure is back there, but that can come whenever.

The weed block is probably going to be the hardest part of the rest of the project. It's a pain to put that stuff down and keep it down, especially when I don't have any mulch right now. But I will find a way to make it stay down, and that will be a good start to the end of that project.

Other than that, I might go out on my longboard and do some paddling. I haven't had much of a chance to do that yet this spring, and it seems like it might be a nice day for it tomorrow. Or maybe a bike ride.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Some More Balloon Ideas...

After making my shark, I had a few ideas for what else I could do with the general design.

Tonight I gave them a try.

My first idea was to modify the tail of the shark with a third fin, making it look like the tail of an airplane. Then I was going to extend the side fins out and remove the dorsal fin, so that it looked like wings on a plane. It was going to be a fighter plane. Unfortunately, it didn't end up working out very well. The wings wouldn't stay off to the sides. Apparently the dorsal fin on the shark keeps the side fins from moving to strange angles. So the fighter plane didn't work out. I have another idea that might work, but I'll have to give it a try some other time. I don't feel like wasting any more balloons on trying it right now.

My second idea was to use the same shark, but modify it's head so that it looked like a hammerhead shark. It actually worked out pretty well. Unfortunately, his tail popped before I could get a picture of him and I didn't want to make another one just for the photo. He's not QUITE as good as the original shark...basically, you can tell he's a hammerhead shark if you KNOW he's a hammerhead shark. But just looking at him might make some people wonder what he is. He's good, but not as good as the original shark.

I also had another idea to do with the large 5 balloon tiger that I wrote about the other day. I'm planning on making another one, only this time adding a sixth balloon to him. I will use a white balloon and put it right down the front center of him, so that it looks like he's got a white belly. I might give that one a try tomorrow...I think it will turn out pretty well. I also have an idea to make his arms look a little bit less stick figure like. I'm not sure why his arms weren't done this way to begin with, because I think it would look quite a bit more natural.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Weight Loss Update...

I've been doing my diet pretty well. I've been working out pretty well.

The only problem?? I seem to have hit a plateau at right about 15 pounds lost.

So I've been doing some reading, and it would appear that I actually wasn't eating ENOUGH food. Odd that you can be trying to lose weight and not eat enough???

Well, I was down around 1400 calories or so everyday. The thing is, to maintain my weight I would need to take in about 3300 calories everyday. To lose weight at a healthy rate of around 2 pounds per week, you should take in only about 20% less calories everyday. So I should have been somewhere around 2500 calories per day give or take.

Basically, what happens is your body goes into almost like a starvation mode when you drastically cut calories all of the sudden. It thinks that you are not going to be getting enough food and it ends up storing as much of the food that you eat as possible.

This does a couple of things...first off, it makes it really difficult to burn fat, even if you're working out. Second, it makes it so that your body won't build muscle the way it's supposed to...which is 50% of my workout routine.

So I've started eating more. I'm trying to get between 1800 and 1900 calories per day. I found a few health websites that suggested that I eat right around that amount of food in order to lose 25 pounds over the next 10 weeks.

What's crazy?? It's HARD to eat another 600 calories when you're eating healthy things. I had tilapia tonight, and each filet was only 80 calories. So to get an extra 600 calories, just to put this into perspective, I would have had to eat about 8 of those filets. I'll be trying to get an extra snack or two during the day to get me closer to my goal of calories.

As far as working out?? I've been keeping it up, but tonight I'm disappointed in myself. I was really tired all day at work from not sleeping well last night, and today I skipped my workout for the first time since I started. I hope it doesn't negatively impact my routine at all. I also have been swapping out the sweat cardio workout every now and then with 30 minutes on the exercise bike. I feel that this isn't a bad thing, because I feel like I'm getting about the same type of workout, and it keeps things fresh...instead of doing the same 35 minute cardio routine every other day, I now throw the bike in every now and then to give me some other options. I'll also think about possibly throwing some paddle boarding in.

Overall, I'm still doing pretty well, I think, but I'm getting a bit frustrated with the plateau that I seem to be stuck on.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My First Balloon of My Own Design!!!

Tonight while laying in bed trying to go to sleep, I was thinking about balloons. Something came to mind all of the sudden, and I figured I'd wait and look into it in the morning. But I then realized I wouldn't be able to sleep without checking it out, so downstairs the balloons and I went.
My idea came quickly, and the design elements of the model followed very quickly themselves.

After about 25 minutes and a few balloons that didn't fit with how I wanted it to look, I was done with my first sculpture that I created and designed entirely by myself.

In case you can't tell from the photos, it's supposed to be a shark.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Not Too Suh-n... say that the Lions defense just got a LOT better.

I've been watching this kid play the last couple of seasons, and he's just a beast. Absolutely incredible.

I know that one guy doesn't make a team...but one guy certainly can make a team better. Jim Schwartz coached Albert Haynesworth, and Schwartz has said that he is more impressed with Suh than he was with Haynesworth. That says a lot, considering Haynesworth has shown that he has the ability to be a one man wrecking crew on the field. Haynesworth's problem, if there is one, is that he sometimes seem to not be completely into the game. I don't think that will be too much of a problem with Suh. He seems to have a work ethic that is spectacular.

Let's just say I'm glad that he's a Lion, and not a guy that's going to be rushing Matt Stafford in a game someday.

Balloon School...Again...

Tonight I did the last sculpture on the Balloon School DVD. I didn't do every single sculpture on the DVD, but this one seemed to be pretty challenging, so I wanted to tackle it.

It's a five balloon sculpture.

And I think it turned out pretty good. His name is Terrance the Tiger. Check him out!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Puppet...

As I've been working on a full magic routine, one of the main portions of it is that I have a helper. The helper is a puppet, and right now I'm planning on recording his lines and putting them onto my iPod which will alleviate the need for any ventriloquism. I read that this is a good substitute on a site that is dedicated to puppetry and shows with puppets, so I figure if it's good enough for a company selling several hundred dollar puppets, then it's good enough for me.

I had originally found a puppet on Ebay that I liked quite a bit, but then I found one by a company called Axtell. Axtell is pretty much the best puppet manufacturer in the world. Their stuff is amazing. Unfortunately, the prices are a bit high as well. Probably not too high, but a bit more than I wanted to pay for something that I wasn't even sure I was going to be able to do. So I figured that I will wait on an Axtell puppet until the time is right...if it's ever right.

So I ended up going with the one that I found on Ebay. He is hand made by a lady that runs a puppet shop store on Ebay. He ended up costing me about $50 including the shipping, and should be shipped out the first week of May. Each puppet isn't even made until it is purchased, so I know for sure that the one I'm getting is brand new and never used.

So, without further, Sparks!!!! (That's his name)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Balloons...

Tonight I made my second order from TMyers Magic for balloons. I still have about 50 balloons from my first order, but to be honest, I'm getting pretty confident in this and I may make my first attempt to go out and make them for people on Wednesday afternoon if the weather is okay.

So today I placed an order for another 250 Qualatex balloons and another 260Q pump. The nice thing about the order today was that the shipping was free. The first order I placed from Tmyers cost me about $6 for the shipping. It was nice to get shipping for nothing on this order. Hopefully they'll be here by the end of the week, because if I do actually go out and do some twisting on Wednesday I will definitely need more balloons.

I really enjoy twisting balloons. It's a lot of fun and I'm pretty good at it. I think that if I can actually muster up the courage to go out and do it for others, I would have a lot of fun, and possibly make a few bucks in tips!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Scripting a Show...

So, for the last eight months I've been buying a lot of magic. I actually have about 9o different effects right now. I've spent a good amount of time and money on them. I practice them and know how to do them.

But for the first time since I started this I am actually working on a routine. An entire 25-30 minute routine that combines similar effects into an entertaining show.

I am working on a kids show routine. I hope to get it done and then maybe be able to perform it professionally at birthday parties or things like that.

It's been tough, coming up with effects that work well with each other. It's been even more tough, working on a script. When I perform stuff for my friends and coworkers I just ad-lib the words that come with it...but after studying magic and participating in many discussions on Penguin's forums, I have realized that a scripted routine that you know by heart, like lines in a movie for an actor, is the only way to go for a real routine.

So I've been working on the script for about a week now. I had been just brainstorming ideas in my head, but the other night I started to put it all into words on the computer. I have just finished the opening sequence of effects and the introduction that takes place immediately after that sequence.

I've started the scripting for the first effect, but I'm not even close to being done with that. After that, I have about 4 more effects that will need to be scripted.

It's been fun, and I look forward to working out the entire routine!!!

An Odd Thing...

After tonight's game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators, EVERY single series in the first round of the NHL playoffs was tied at one game each after the first two games.

Think about how crazy that is. I don't think I've ever seen a first round, in any sport that has a series for a playoff, that had EVERY matchup tied after the first two games.

That's simply amazing to me. The NFL prides itself on being so full of parity and having the teams be able to beat each other on any given Sunday...but you don't get much more parity than having all 16 teams in the NHL playoffs win one game out of the first two that they played.

If anyone is reading this that knows of another time this has happened in any major sport, baseball, basketball, or hockey, please let me know...because I have been looking around and I can't find an instance of it at all.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Balloon School...Update...

I really enjoy the balloon twisting.

I learned a new sculpture tonight, a monkey. It's pretty cool.

I can now do about 8 or 9 different sculptures from memory with no problems. I e-mailed the guy that I had been discussing this on Penguin with, Peter, and he suggested that I get out and try doing it for some random people to see if I make any tips.

I have a Teddy Bear, a Dog, a Giraffe, a Monkey, and a Cat that I can do very well, relatively quickly, and I have them memorized so that I can do them easily without having to reference anything. I can also do a flower and a sword, but those are quite a bit more basic.

Those five sculptures could be a pretty good start for me to star making some tips if I were to go out and try to do this. I'm kind of nervous about that, still, though. I think I will practice a bit more before I end up trying that out. I will need a few more balloons anyways, so that's a good enough excuse for why I can't go and get started yet.

I also need to start seriously thinking about how I'm going to carry the balloons and pump with me. I am thinking of using a messenger bag that Cathy had from school. It would do a great job of holding balloons, it's easy to flip from front (to grab a balloon) to the back (to have it out of the way while twisting) and it looks nice. I figure for attire while doing this, to start, I'll just wear anything that I would normally wear. No reason to go out and get some wacky outfit in order to do this...even though that might draw a bit more attention to me. Well, maybe that would be a good have some attention drawn to me. Who knows. I will just go out in regular clothes to start and see how that goes. I just hope nobody think it's creepy when I walk up around the playground and start blowing up balloons and giving them to kids...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

To-Do List Update...

Back on March 24th I made a post about my Spring To-Do List.

Well, yesterday I made some more progress on it. This was on the list:

3. This is probably my most significant project. We have a small circle garden in the back yard that is overgrown with weeds. Cathy's mom used to use it as a garden...but neither of us are into that so our plan for now is to basically just level it. After that we're going to put down some of the weed guard stuff and then put a nice thick layer of wood chips over it. Once we've got that down and on the ground, we'll go about getting ourselves one of those nice outdoor fireplace type of things and have that right in the center of the area. We'll then add a couple of nice chairs to it and have a nice place to sit and have a fire at night if we want to. The last part of this project that I want to do...which will probably be the most getting three 8 foot lengths of some kind of privacy fence up behind the area. The reason for this is because the bushes that are about 5 feet away from this area of the back yard is a place that wasps really like to make nests in. The last thing that I want is to be out trying to enjoy a nice fire only to get attacked by angry wasps. So we'll have to either buy a few 8 foot sections of fencing, or make them ourselves. I would LIKE to make some out of bamboo, but I don't think that's going to be very feasible as far as the cost goes. What more than likely will happen is we'll just find whatever 8 foot section of fencing is the least expensive and then go with that.
So while I was mowing on Wednesday, I went ahead and hacked all of the plants, weeds, and everything else that was standing in the garden down. All of it. I got it down so that there's literally nothing left.

I was going to go ahead and spray the weed killer on it as well, but of course when I went to do that our spray bottle was broken, so I couldn't actually spray anything. No big deal, we'll get a new one in the next week or so and then spray all of the stuff that's still alive, but hacked down, to make sure that it doesn't grow back. Then we'll go ahead and put the weed blocker down. After that, we'll just need a nice truck load of mulch and it'll be pretty much done.

I thought it would be quite a bit more difficult than it was...but the riding mower literally leveled the stuff in the garden, which makes the project immensely easier.

I look forward to getting back to work on it in the next week or so.

Go Fly a Kite...

Today, for the first time in probably about five years, I got out my kites.

I took my biggest one, my Griffin, to the field at the school by my house and got it up right away. It was nice and windy so it was a pretty good workout. I had a lot of fun doing it. For a few minutes while I was flying it, a little boy was running around underneath it chasing it. It was funny to watch him...he was like a cat with one of those laser toys.

Cathy came to watch, but she didn't want to take the reigns of the monster. I can't really blame 8 foot sportkite in 30 MPH gusts of wind can be difficult for me to handle, and I've been flying them for years and years.

I need to do some repairs to the Griffin. It's got some tears on it's wings from...something...I don't really know what. It appears that something leaked on it while it was being stored at my parents house a long time ago. I know it's been like that for a while, I just never got around to fixing it. But maybe it's time to do that.

I'll have to try getting a few of the other ones out over the summer. I forgot how much fun flying them can be!!!

DJ Hero...

I posted quite a while ago about wanting to get "DJ Hero" for my Xbox. I didn't buy it when it came out because it was just a bit more money than I wanted to spend on a game. It cost like $120 when it first came out.

Recently the price was dropped to $100.

This week, however, Toys R Us had it on sale for half I went ahead and picked it up. For $50 it was a pretty good deal.

I played it a bit tonight, and it's pretty fun. The music is really cool, and the controller works really well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 2...Balloon School...

Tonight I went back to class at Balloon School.

I remembered all of my basic steps from class yesterday, so I dove right in with section two which is the "Nine Basic Sculptures" of balloon twisting.

The first one was the dog that I had already finished. I made another dog tonight from memory before I even started watching the DVD, and it came out even better than my first dog the other night.

The second sculpture is a giraffe, which is literally the same thing as the dog only with different sizes for things. Where the dog's body and tail are long, the giraffe's neck and legs are long. Other than that they are basically the same thing.

Next up was a sword, which is incredibly easy to make. I threw that together in no time, and easily could make another one from memory.

After the sword came a heart, which I had made a simple version of last night. This one is a bit more detailed, but the exact same thing really. I didn't end up making one of them because the one last night came out pretty well.

After the heart came one that I really liked. It was the first one that I did that used two different balloons. It's a nice big flower on a stem. The stem is one balloon and the flower is another balloon. It's really cool looking, and pretty easy to do. It came out really well!!!

After the flower came an airplane, which was a bit more difficult. There was one twist in it that I just wasn't really getting down very well. I will definitely have to practice this one quite a bit more before actually being satisfied with it.

Next up was a butterfly, which also came out pretty well...except for the antennas. The butterfly is a combination of a heart and some other twists, and is also made out of two balloons. The butterfly would have come out a bit better, but I didn't have the balloon filled up with enough air. I will give it another shot tomorrow to see if it turns out better.

That was where I called it a night. Next up tomorrow will be a teddy bear, which should be really cool. This balloon twisting is incredibly fun...and I'm surprising myself with how quickly I am taking to it. The most difficulty that I've had is with getting the right amount of air into the balloons. It seems that I often put too little air in them, and when I'm done making the sculpture there is some left over balloon that doesn't inflate correctly because there's not enough air in the balloon. I will get better at that, though, with practice, so I'm not really considering it an issue at this point.

Tomorrow I'll finish the last two basic sculptures, then go back and practice the other ones a few more times. Hopefully on Thursday I'll move on to a few of the advanced sculptures...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Tonight I started watching my "Balloon School" DVD.

It's GREAT. Joe Montella is a great teacher. His pace is good, his teaching style is fun, and he does a great job of getting his point across.

After learning just two basic twists, I realized that I had unknowingly learned everything I needed to know to do a beginning sculpture. So I paused the DVD and gave it a shot. A few minutes later, I had what was obviously a dog made out of a single balloon. Success!!!!

What's amazing about this skill/hobby/art is that you can do just about anything with only four or five different twists. I would have thought that there would be lots of things you would have to learn, but there really aren't.

After learning all the basic twists tonight, I shut off the DVD so that I could get started on the next section, which focuses on actual sculptures, over the next couple of days.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Week One Down...

Thirteen more to go.

So, I made it through my first week of Power 90, and I have to say that it was a challenge. I haven't really worked out or even been that active in a LONG time, so to throw all of that to the side and do six straight days of workouts was really tough for me.

I may not have been able to do 100% of the exercises 100% of the time, but I can say that I tried 100% of the exercises 100% of the time, and I do feel like I gave 100% to the program for the first week.

I moved up in weights on the sculpt side by the third day. I think I'll stay there for a while, until I can get max reps done with no problems. Then I'll go up again. On the cardio side, I'm still having trouble with the Yoga, but I replaced that today with some cardio on my heavy bag for the time that they were doing Yoga. I found on a message board that if you can't do one of the things, find something else that you can do that you can put in that spot, and come back and try that one that you can't do at the start of the next week. So I'll give the Yoga a shot again at the start of next week, and if I can't do it I'll go back to the heavy bag. I feel that I got a better workout with the heavy bag, mainly because I was actively moving that entire time...where with the Yoga I'm not doing much for the first 5 minutes of the workout because I can't do the stuff.

The first week is in the books...the seventh day of every week is for rest, so tomorrow night I'll just be relaxing when I get home from work instead of doing a workout.

But you know what?? I look forward to getting back to it on Wednesday.

Week one?? Check.
Weeks two through 13?? Here I come!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ninja Warrior...

So, completely by accident the other night Cathy and I stumbled across Ninja Warrior.

Ninja Warrior is a show on G4 that is, basically, the ultimate obstacle course. It consists of four stages that competitors must get through in order to win. Let's just put it this way, they've had nearly 25 "Sasuke" (that's the name of the show in Japan) competitions, and out of the several hundred people that try out for each one, there have only ever been TWO people that have finished the entire thing.

It's amazingly insane, the course. Just watching it makes my body sore!!!

We have watched most of the seasons of it, and were really glad to stumble across it this time. This is the 23rd competition, and it's just really enjoyable TV. It's competitive, suspenseful, and features some athletes that are just absolutely epic.

This is my favorite competitor. Nagano Makoto.

He was the second guy to win the competition. He's a 37 year old that owns his own fishing boat, and he just seems like he's an awesome athlete. He's humble, good at what he does, and always cheering on his competition. It's just amazing to watch him compete.

If you've never seen the show, I really suggest giving it a shot. If you're a fan of sports, you'll be amazed by some of these guys strength. If you're a fan of suspense and drama, it's full of that as you watch guys ALMOST make it, then come up just short.

Good stuff. I'm glad we stumbled across it the other night.

Day Five...

Today was my fifth day of Power 90.

The cardio is tough, especially the Yoga. I just can't seem to do it. Yesterday about half way through Yoga I just started jogging in place instead of the Yoga. I'll keep working at it, but it's tough.
The circuit work, today, I upped the weight to 20 pounds per side. Wow. It really kicked my butt that way. I was still able to get the minimum amount of suggested reps in for every excercise, and I only had to go to lighter weights on two of them. I will probably stay at 20 pounds until I can hit the max number of reps on every exercise and at least get the minimum reps at 20 pounds on the two that I had to lower the weight on.

I'm sure I'll REALLY be feeling this in the morning, as I already feel it starting to hit me. But, pain equals gain...right?? RIGHT???!!!???

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Swimming in New Magic!!!

My huge order of magic arrived today. Which is cool.

The only problem?? It's a TON of new stuff...and Cathy just got me a TON of new stuff for my birthday.

So basically, I have WAY too much magic that I've gotten in the last few days. I'm going to have to really buckle down and get to learning some of this stuff.

The nice thing about the stuff that Cathy got me is that it's all stuff that is easy to perform, which is what I like. The stuff I got for myself, however, is stuff that is probably going to take quite a bit of practice.

A couple of the things I got myself are more for just information and entertainment. The DVD on escapes is going to be awesome to watch, just to see the great escapes and how they were performed, but I don't really know if I'll end up performing any of them myself any time soon. I may work on a couple of the easier things, but I just don't see myself setting up professional escapes that are seen in newspapers and on TV and such.

Don't get me wrong, having too much magic is never a bad just seems really overwhelming right now!! The really nice part about having too much magic is that I won't have to worry about buying anything new any time soon. I have a few effects that I might purchase soon, because I'm working on putting together an entire routine, but after that I may take a break from buying things and just start practicing things quite a bit.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 3...and a Few Other Notes...

Today was Day 3 of Power 90. Back to the weights.

I was right in the swing of things, doing well, sweating up a storm, and doing more reps and harder work than I had the first time...when...what do you know, the Xbox we'd been using in the basement stopped working. It ended up getting the same "Disc Read" error that it had when my friend fixed it.

I ended up finishing off the workout as best I could by memory. I did everything right, except for one of the exercises, which I made up for by doing one exercise twice. I felt pretty good after the workout tonight. Maybe doing them later in the day is better for me?? I definitely have more energy later in the day.

So after I finished, Cathy and I ran up to Target and purchased a brand new, Jasper chipset, three year warranty, shiny Xbox 360 Arcade System. We didn't need anything other than the Arcade unit, because we already have all of the stuff that comes with the more expensive systems. Hooked that up and everything is good to go.

Now...those few other notes.

First, I have been wearing necklaces pretty regularly for the last year or so. I wear ones that are "surfy" if that's a word. Basically, they are pretty basic and usually look pretty natural. No shiny metal or gold, just natural looking metal and bone and such. So today I tried my hand at making my own necklace. It actually came out pretty good!!! Which brings me to note #2... mom has purchased some space in what is basically a consignment shop to sell some items she's been sewing!! They are like purses and lunch pails, and I have to say they are pretty nice (and not just because she's my mom and she reads my blog...). I think it's really cool that she's doing this. I think it will be a fun experience for her, and heck, you never know...she might even make some money!!! I asked her if she thought that maybe the necklaces could sell...she said she wasn't sure, but she would ask about it. So I hope she gets a chance to ask, because if I could make a few extra bucks by putting some necklaces together and selling them, that would be cool. I have fun making them, so if I could make money for it I would be pretty happy.

As for note glasses finally showed up!! When I got up we went and picked them up. I'm pretty happy with the way they look. I really like them, and it's nice to be able to see sharply again!!!

And my final note...

Today is my 31st birthday. Yup. The world has been blessed with my presence for 31 years now. I can't even begin to imagine what it was like before then?? My parents, grandparents on my mom's side, and grandfather on my dad's side all came down and we all went to Applebee's for dinner. It was fun. After that, we went home and I got some gifts.

I got some pretty cool stuff. My parents got me a REALLY nice pedometer. My mom knows I've been trying to get more healthy, and it's great because I HAD been looking to get a new that's a PERFECT gift for me!! They also gave me some cash, which obviously is always useful!!

My grandparents on my mom's side got me a Final Four t-shirt, and some cash. Again, two nice gifts that I will get use out of. I've been thinking about slimming down my collection of t-shirts and replacing some old ones with new ones, so this might be a good time to get that started.

My grandfather got me a Red Wings hat, which, oddly enough I actually don't have one of. I have probably 50 hats in my closet, and not one of them is a Wings hat. I DO have one Wings hat, but it's not red, it's the special St. Patrick's Day Green Wings hat. He also got me some gloves for working in the yard, which is, yet again a GREAT gift. In the process of throwing things away from the garage, I just chucked about 10 pairs of yard gloves. Why?? They were all brittle and nasty. I had been planning on getting some new ones as soon as I needed them. Now I don't have to buy any!!!

Finally, Cathy gave me a TON of stuff. She went overboard, because she forgot that the gifts I got her for her birthday last year INCLUDED her anniversary gift. She got me over $100 worth of magic from Penguin. Some really great effects, including one that I've wanted for a LONG time and one that I just recently found that turned out to be AMAZING. She also got me a book on Mojitos, which seems like it's got some really good recipes in it. I have found a recipe that works for Mojitos for me, but I'll give some of these a try. At the very least, they have some good ideas for things to add to the Mojito which will make them unique. She also got me two Quiksilver hats and a REALLY nice Quiksilver shirt. I now have quite the collection of Quiksilver gear...this is probably the most pieces of name brand clothing I've ever had in my life.

All in all it was a great birthday. I had a lot of fun!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day Two...

So I finished my first two workouts on Power 90.

Day one was "Sculpt 1/2." It's a weight lifting routine that uses free weights, along with some body weight things like push-ups and such.

I didn't have too many problems at least DOING the exercises. I might not have gotten all of the reps that the target is on a couple of them, but on the first day you're supposed to just kind of learn what types of things you'll be doing.

I was using 10 pounds on each side, which seemed to be pretty good for me. A few of the exercises I easily could have used more weight. Mainly the leg exercises. But a couple of them got me pretty tired even with only the 10 pound weights.

I woke up today (did Day One yesterday) pretty sore. I could definitely feel the workout from the previous day.

So then tonight when I got home from work I went to work on Day 2, which is "Sweat 1/2." It's a cardio routine. I got through most of it...except the Yoga at the beginning. I simply couldn't do some of the poses. I found that it kind of hurt some of the areas that I was sore from the day before. I tried them all, but couldn't do them all.

I then moved on to the standard cardio and had pretty good luck with that. There were some things that I did significantly more slowly than the instructors on the DVD, but overall I think I kept moving the entire time, which is what they say to do if you can't do everything the whole time.

I found that I didn't sweat quite as much as I had hoped I hopefully as I get a bit more intense with it I'll start sweating more, and hopefully burning off some more calories.

The nice thing about the cardio workout is it helped my sore muscles loosen up a bit. I don't feel nearly as sore as I did earlier in the day, so that's a good thing.

Tomorrow it's back to sculpting and the weight lifting. I'm looking forward to Day 7...which is rest.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Nike Golf Commercial...

That's the voice of Tiger's dad, Earl.

I'm not sure where they got that audio clip from, but it couldn't possibly fit the situation that Tiger has gotten himself into over the last 6 months any better.

Tiger Woods remains my favorite golfer. I am one of the people that never really viewed him as a "good guy," or a "role model," or a "positive influence on those around him." He never seemed like that kind of guy to me...that's what the media apparently wanted everyone to think of him, however.

To me, he was always kind of aloof. He was completely arrogant. He was a jerk.

But you know what?? Those things were what made him the ultimate competitor. He was all business on the course, all the time. Sure, we got a few glimpses of him when he wasn't being a predator on the golf his win after his father passed away. But those moments were far overshadowed by the images of him swearing at himself, shouting at his clubs, or slamming his clubs around. I think those images tell more about him as a person than anything else. Fiercely competitive, refusing to lose, getting angry in defeat. I imagine that those traits that he has on the golf course weren't being left on the course. He was taking those attributes with him off the course, and ultimately that led to what we have all seen over the course of the last few months.

This leads me to another point. What Tiger Woods did off the course will be forgiven and forgotten by his fans. Tom Brady left his pregnant girlfriend to be with a supermodel and nobody cared once he started tossing TDs again. Kobe Bryant, by most accounts, raped a girl in a hotel and nobody cared once he started dominating the hardwood again. The same will go for Tiger. I have felt for a while that the easiest way for him to put this past him, if that's what he wants to do, is to get back on the course. As soon as he starts hitting golf balls 300 yards into a tiny hole again, people will quickly forget what he has done this past winter. That's what we do as Americans...we forgive. We give second chances...and third chances.

To me, I have never once thought about not being a fan of Tiger Woods. What he does off the course, in my opinion, is his own business and shouldn't be subjected to public scrutiny. I am a fan of Tiger Woods for his ability as a golfer...not for his moral issues as a man. With that said, I am extremely excited to see him get back out on the golf course. I think it will be good for him, and is a big step towards him getting forgiveness from any public figures that he feels he needs forgiveness from.

Now, the biggest question...what if he wins??? According to his practice partners, he's been playing better golf since getting back into the swing of things than they've ever seen him play. What if he wins?? How will the public react to that?? How will the media react?? Will the new, humble, more human Tiger Woods be put back up onto a pedestal?? Or will people look at him and realize that he's two things at once...the Greatest Golfer Ever AND a human being that has some personal and private issues that he says he's working on??

But anyways...I'm rambling. I look forward to seeing him on the tee. So does the PGA.

A Goal Met, and Some New Challenges...

Today was the day.

I hit my goal of 230 pounds. I set that goal on February 27th. At that time I weighed about 242 pounds. That means that in 38 days I lost 12 pounds by doing nothing other than eating a bit better and cutting soda out of my diet. I didn't go on an aggressive diet. I didn't starve myself. I simply cut my portions back a bit and cut out that soda. I even binged a few times on things that I shouldn't have...two or three cinnamon rolls, a bag of chips, things like that.

Think about that...12 pounds in 38 days. That's about 1 pound every 3 days. That's amazing. Think about what would happen if I actually started working out to go along with it??

Which brings me to my new challenges.

Power 90 came today. I went ahead and did all of the pre-work. I measured everything on myself it told me to measure. I weighed myself. I got my body fat percentage. I took some before photos. I read through the manual. I read through the recipe book.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I start my 90 day boot camp. I am looking forward to it, but nervous at the same time. I don't particularly like exercising, but hopefully as I get into it more I will like it more. Regardless, I AM going to do this. Ninety days?? That's only three months. That's cake. Day one is basically just a walk through of the first DVD. Day two is a walk through of the second DVD. After that, it's really time to get down to business.

The best part about the Power 90 package?? Some of the suggested meals that are in the recipe book look really good!!! There are two chicken recipes that I REALLY want to try, and a recipe for some homemade french fries that looks great!!! I think that for my first day on the plan, I'm going to try to make one of the chicken recipes.

My first goal with the plan?? Get down to 220 pounds. It took me 38 days to lose 12 pounds without any working out. I'm hoping to get down to 220 in less than half of that with the Power 90.

I plan on coupling the Power 90 with some extra cardio stuff, like my Paddle Boarding or bicycling. I got the board out today, and in just the short ride that I took it really kicked my butt!!!

Pretty soon, it will be ME that's doing the butt kicking!!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Used the Mower...

Today I noticed that there were some flowery weed type things growing in the front yard.

I didn't like them, so I decided that I would get out the mower and hack them down. It rained last night, so I wasn't planning on mowing today, but the weeds were just really an eye sore so I figured what the heck.

I got it out of the shed, it started instantly, and I went to work.

Well, after I hacked the weeds down, I decided to go ahead and keep going. I had the front done in about 10 minutes...other than the ditch. The ditch provided some obstacles to overcome. First, the mower isn't SUPPOSED to mow on an angle of more than 15 degrees. The ditch has ONE strip on each side that would be more than that, so I figured I might as well try it. It worked just fine...I didn't feel like it was about to tip over or anything. I tried several different methods of mowing the area there, and came up with one that seemed to work pretty well. I will probably have to experiment a bit to find something that works the best.

I then went ahead and did the back...and had that done in about 15 minutes. All in all, the entire yard took less than 45 minutes to mow...when it used to take me at least an hour just to do the front OR the back. I wasn't even going very fast, and I was going over spots I had already mowed pretty regularly. I'm sure as soon as I get my pattern down I'll probably be able to get the whole yard done in about half an hour.

There will probably still be a few spots that require me to get out the push mower...little areas that are just too difficult to get into with the tractor. But they won't be too bad, and they are so small I can probably get them done in just a few minutes on top of the rest of the yard.

I'm really happy that we got the thing. It worked excellently and is a breeze to use!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Just a BIT Irritated Today...

So... was supposed to be a good day. Cathy and I got out of work early because she had some time off award hours that she needed to use in the next few weeks, so we figured why not give ourselves a jump start on the weekend??

So we left work at 3:30 and headed to Dick's Sporting Goods so Cathy could check out some adjustable dumbbells that were there. All is going well so far.

On the way home I figured I'd call Sears Optical to see if my glasses were there yet. It has been 15 days since I went to get my glasses, and they said that they would be in "in 10-14 days." So, 15 is more than all of that, so you'd think they'd be in, right?? Wrong. The lady said that they weren't in. She then told me that they were taking about 10-14 days to come in...which is when I mentioned that I had purchased them 15 days ago. She then responded with "Well, there was a holiday." As if Easter Sunday sets them back another month or two on production. Whatever. Hopefully they'll come in sometime in the next few days, but I'm not going to be holding my breath. So now I'm just a bit irritated.

I figure it will be okay, because the Power 90 program I ordered last Thursday should be there when I get home. I paid $13 for shipping and had a free upgrade to express shipping that would normally cost $15 extra. I figured that $28 worth of shipping should probably make it to my home in five days. Especially when it's being shipped from Columbus, Ohio...which is like 4 hours from my house. So I get home, and no package. Alright, whatever, it will be here soon. I then check the status of the shipping, which is when I find out that the package wasn't even actually shipped until TODAY. I can tell you what...for $13 shipping, I expect a package to be sent out in less than 4 days. When that includes a $15 "upgrade," I expect it to be at my HOUSE in 4 days. I would be absolutely LIVID if I had actually PAID $28 shipping to NOT have a package at my house in 4 days. So I have no idea when it's going to be here now. I was hoping to get started on it tomorrow, but that's probably out of the question now. So now I'm a bit angry.

Well, all of this was before we went down to let the dogs out. When we got down there, Cooper had gotten sick in his crate. That's not that big of a deal...a bit annoying, but you can't get mad when an animal gets sick. So I cleaned up his mess and made a plan to have dinner and then clean out all three crates and replace the bedding that was in them with new bedding so that they all have nice clean crates. So I take a nap while Cathy makes dinner. When we get done with dinner I go down and get to work on cleaning out the crates. Cathy comes down to help. When we get done we go back upstairs, only to discover that one of the dogs (I think Cooper) had decided it would be a great idea to pee all over our couch. And when I say all over our couch, I mean all over our couch. It was all over both cushions that you sit on, both cushions that you lean on, and all over the arm on one side of the couch. So now my transition from slightly irritated at Sears to completely irate is complete.

I start trying to clean up the couch, and realize that it's basically a useless effort. Cathy and I took about five minutes to decide we were heading to the store to find something to replace it with. We ended up going to Target and for around $200 we got a folding sofa couch bed type thing. It's like a futon but the sides fold up to make arms. We ended up preparing for the next inevitable accident that comes with owning three dogs and a cat...and got a nice waterproof mattress pad to go on the thing, and a sheet to go over the top of that. So, our plan is to take the pad and sheet off of it whenever we have company so that we have a nice place for people to sit...but when we don't have company (which is 99.999% of the time) we have the pad on it, the sheet on it, and it's folded completely flat for...a GIANT dog bed!!!!

The dogs seem to like it, which I guess is a good thing. At least with the protection that we've put on it there's not much way that it's going to get ruined by them. But that still doesn't change the fact that today was pretty irritating.

Now, let's just see if Butler can knock off Duke, and hopefully make me take a step back in a good direction!!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Great Deal...

Tonight I pulled off an EXCELLENT deal through Penguin for some new effects.

They have a "Five for $99" deal going on right now. There were about 30 effects that qualified to be part of the package.

I ended up getting five effects to try and maximize the discount.

1. Balloon School. This is the DVD I posted about the other day. It costs $50 by itself.
2. Seance Starring Dixie Dooley. This is a DVD that focuses on haunted magic and comedy seance. It cost $30 by itself.
3. Contact Starring Tyas Frantz. This is a DVD about contact juggling. It's an awesome art. It cost $30 by itself.
4. Street Cups Starring Gazzo. This is a DVD with some great cups and balls routines. It costs $50 by itself.
5. Escapology Starring Dixie Dooley. This is a DVD set that teaches you how to escape. It costs $100!!!

So that means that I got $260 worth of products for $99.

But wait, there's more.

To go with the cups and balls DVD I had to get, well, some cups and balls, right?? I ordered an inexpensive set of them for $13.

This put my total order to $112 dollars, which qualified me for two bonuses from the Penguin March Madness Bonus Program. I ended up getting Svengalli Starring Oz Pearlman, a $20 value, and Coin Under Watch on DVD, another $20 value.

That puts me at a grand total of $313 worth of products for a total of $112. Then I used my discount code to get 10% off of the order. That took the total down to less than $101.

So, I ended up saving $212 on the whole package. That's a pretty amazing deal!!!

I'm kind of viewing this as my birthday present to myself...and I think I did a pretty great job!!!

Coming Up Just Short...

Tonight the Spartans came up just short. Seems to be the running theme with my favorite sports teams over the last year or so.

I felt the game wasn't officiated very well, but the Spartans also didn't play very well. Had they played well, they should have easily overcome any problems with the officiating.

In fact, it was an UGLY game on both sides of the ball for both teams. That was a HORRIBLE game. Neither team played particularly well. I GUESS you could try to credit each team's defense for that, but defenses don't cause horrible shot selections and cause wide open shots to clank off the front of the rim.

Oh well, I'm happy that they got as far as they did. I'm hoping they can keep most of this team together and make another run next season. A trip to the Final Four isn't too bad...there are 343 other DI teams that would have loved to be where the Spartans made it to.

Thanks for another great run, Sparty!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Expanding My Magic Hobby...

I found something on Penguin tonight that I am really interested in. I've got a ton of magic tricks and I'm getting a few more for my birthday. I also have a ton of them on my Penguin Wish List.

But I stumbled across this and thought it would be great.

It's an entire course in making balloon objects. Animals, plants, and all kinds of other random things.

It starts from the beginning as if you have no experience at all, which I don't. It progresses from teaching you the absolute basics. to teaching you more advanced items, to then teaching you how to combine different techniques to make one giant object.

After you have all of that mastered, the course then has some great information about actually using your new found skill to make some money. One of the featured reviews on Penguin is by a 17 year old kid that made over $18,000 in three months after he had done this course. Now, of course, I wouldn't be using it for something like that...I would be using it to learn something new and fun to do. However, if I could find some way to eventually make $6,000 a month using it...then you bet I'd be all over it!!!

I figure that adding something like this to my magic hobby gives me another aspect of entertaining that I can learn and practice. I would like to eventually start trying to make some money in this industry, even if just from tips at a place that allows me to perform.

I've also been working on my juggling. I used to be able to juggle a little bit and enjoyed it immensely. But I stopped doing it years ago and of course I have lost any ability to do it. Cathy bought me some Cirque du Soleil juggling balls when we were at the show the other night, and I've been practicing with them. I am getting better, and hopefully will be able to have it all come back to me some time soon.

But anyways...the balloon animals thing is really interesting to me. I think it would be great fun to learn how to do them!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Eleven Pounds...

That's how much weight I've lost in the last month.

I don't really seem to see a huge difference, but I do feel different. My pants seem to be a bit looser. I've had to take my belt in another notch. My shirt that I wear at work seems to be feeling a bit big.

I didn't think that I'd be able to drop that much weight, but when I started I was 241.8 pounds. When I weighed myself at the end of the month I was 230.2.

Of course, that fluctuates what seems like a pound or two at a time, but even if it was two pounds short, I still managed to cut over 9 pounds!!!

I'm proud of myself...but hopefully this is just a start. I will be ordering the Power 90 program and using it with Cathy's new adjustable weights, and I will probably also order a Bodylastics resistance bands set.

I've been eating better and, in my opinion even more importantly, eating less. Smaller portions have really helped me a lot. I feel better after eating and I'm sure the lower calorie count is obviously helping me to lose the weight that I've lost.

I can't wait to get into some physical activity, like the Power 90 or the Land Paddling, and see how much more that helps. Hopefully I'll be able to make another post like this in about 30 days, reporting even more good news!!!!

Power 90...

It's time for me to finally start doing something about getting into a bit better shape.

I had been thinking about spending the money on the P90X system that you see on informercials late at night. It's supposed to be an absolutely amazing system, and I have a few people that I know of that I trust that have done it and ended up with great results.

After some research online, however, I found that it's not really a recommended workout routine for someone that is out of shape or has never really done a workout routine. However, I also found that it has a little brother type program, just called P90. No "X."

P90 is designed for beginners and is a slightly less intense workout routine. It still takes 90 days to complete, but instead of working with weights as often, it focuses more on burning fat and just getting into better general shape instead of bulking up muscle and toning muscle.

P90 is also quite a bit less expensive than P90X, which is always a good thing. The money I save on the P90 versus the P90X could be used to get a few more things to work on my fitness one of those Iron Gym pull up bars and some nice resistance bands. Both of those items are required for the P90X routines, and I figure if all goes well with the P90, I may as well go ahead and invest in P90X shortly after finishing up P90.

This plan gives me a good solid six month program. After I get done with P90X, there is a P90X Plus which is even more intense than P90X. I'm sure that they will come out with a P90X2 or something along the line as well, which would give me something else to continue working on.

The best part about P90 to me is the fact that it has shorter workouts. That will hopefully fit into my schedule better, and it will also allow me to maybe do some other types of workouts to keep from the P90 getting repetitive. For instance, I could supplement the P90 with some boxing with my heavy and speed bags or I could use the exercise bike for 30 minutes before or after doing the P90.

All of this will be supplemented, of course, by my Land Paddling. I didn't get a chance to do that this weekend because I was relatively busy, but next week I have promised myself that I will get my first serious paddle of the year in.

Cirque du Soleil...Alegria...

Tonight Cathy and I went to Breslin Center in East Lansing to watch the traveling Cirque du Soleil show, Alegria.

We had seats right in the very front row. Awesome seats, really.

It was pretty good. Lots of the performances were things that I haven't seen before. It was quite a bit different than the Cirque show that we saw in Las Vegas, Mystere.

The best part?? I got picked by two clowns to be the audience member that participated in one of the routines. They were mocking one of the performances where two performers held what is effectively a flexible balance beam and fling another performer into the air. They had me stand on their "beam" which of course couldn't lift me, then hilarity ensued.

I ended up jumping rope over the beam instead of being thrown in the air. It was a lot of fun. I think that I did pretty well. Cathy said everyone was cracking up. I tried to ad-lib as best as I when they couldn't fling me in the air I apologized to them and patted my belly...the one clown said "Ahhh...super sized!!!" after I did that.

All in all, it was an excellent show. I had a lot of fun being up on stage, too!!!