Thursday, December 30, 2010

As 2010 Comes to a Close, Let's Look Back at My Resolutions...

On January 1, 2010 I posted the following resolutions on my blog:

1. I am going to try to eat a bit healthier. We got a toaster oven for Christmas and I'm looking forward to using it to cook some more meals at home.
2. I am going to try to exercise a bit more. Exercise bike, real bike, and my land paddling will be the ways I go about doing that. I was doing pretty well with the land paddling last year until it started to get dark earlier.
3. I am going to try to save a bit more money. I want to be able to start taking regular trips places, and I feel that the easiest way to accomplish this is going to be by saving a bit more money. I would like to get to the point where I can take at LEAST one trip a year to somewhere cool.
4. I am going to try to be a little more patient with the dogs. They are getting older and they are stubborn, but I'm going to be more patient with them.
5. I am going to continue enjoying life with Cathy.

Now, let's take a look at how well I did (or didn't do) on those resolutions.

First, eating healthier. For a good part of the year, I did very well with this. I had cut all regular soda out of my diet and was eating less junk food and more diet type foods. I even managed to lose nearly 35 pounds. So I did pretty well. But then I got bored with those foods and started eating junk again. I put a bunch of the weight back on, but I'm still down from where I started. So overall, I did well, but not nearly as well as I could have. I'm disappointed in myself for not sticking to it...and I have promised myself to get back to eating better again. Maybe for another resolution??

Second, exercising. This was another thing very much like the first. I started out with a workout program that quickly became boring. But then I started riding bicycles and was doing pretty well. Then I somehow managed to hurt my leg a bit, and it was sore for a couple of weeks. By the time it felt better, I had pretty much given up. I then started another workout routine here near the end of the year, and again I managed to hurt myself a bit, this time my back, but I'm planning on getting started on it again in the next few days. I pulled a muscle in my back a long time ago, and it seems like ever since then every six months or so I aggravate it a bit. I think it's because I never let it fully heal, so I stopped working out to make sure I'm back to 100% before getting started again. Also, I have plans for other things to do to work out this it will be ANOTHER resolution again.

Third, saving money. I actually did pretty well with that this year. I managed to have nearly $1,000 extra by the time the end of the year rolled around. Of course, quite a bit of that was spent on Christmas gifts...but that's okay, it's a good start. I don't think I had ever had an extra $1,000 to spend on Christmas gifts before. It was nice to be able to buy gifts for everyone while not struggling to pay bills or anything like that. I've got some plans to make sure I continue doing good saving...which is good, because Hawai'i will be here sooner than I know.

Fourth, being more patient with the dogs. This one was hit or miss. I think that overall I was much more patient with them this past year, but there were times when I really couldn't take it and just needed some peace. However, I would say that this resolution was a success...and that's even including the fact that Cooper has been really bad with his nails lately.

Fifth, continue enjoying life. This one was something that I know I accomplished. I had a lot of fun this past year and can't really think of anything that is a real downer for the year. Sure, some things at work were aggravating, but nothing that would really matter in the grand scheme of things. I continue to really enjoy spending time with Cathy, and look forward to a long time of having fun with her.

I'm sure I'll have some resolutions to post for 2011...and I'm sure that some of them will be the same as last year. I guess if I can continue to progress with them, then maybe by 2015 I'll actually be able to stick to all of them for the whole year!!!

My Christmas and Work Bonus Gift to Myself...

Other than going to Las Vegas, I figured I'd spend a little bit of my bonus from work on a cool gadget. I use my laptop a lot while I'm watching TV, but usually only for little unimportant things like checking my fantasy football teams, checking scores of games, looking at my e-mails, or checking out various message boards.

It is sometimes a hassle to get the laptop out, wait for it to boot up, only to use it for a few minutes then have to put it away because I want to use my table for something, I have taken to using my iPod Touch for doing these internet based things recently because it's more convenient than getting out the computer. I still use the computer a lot, but the iPod has come in handy when I don't want to worry about booting up the laptop.

But the iPod Touch doesn't browse the web in the best ways. It only goes to mobile sites sometimes, even when I want to go to the full website. So I had been looking at Android Tablets...things kind of similar to an iPad. I was looking at the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but it was pretty expensive at nearly $700. I had found a good deal where you got a $300 rebate for buying it, but the small print showed you had to subscribe to a 3g wireless plan for it wasn't really going to save me anything, but instead cost me $40 a month. No go for that.

I kept looking at some of the other Android tablets, and I found one that really stuck out. The Archos A70 Internet Tablet.

It's got a 7" capacitative touch it's basically like a huge iPod Touch...but it runs the Android operating system. It's got WiFi, so obviously it will connect to the internet at home and at work. It's also quite a bit lighter and thinner than most of it's competition.

I found that most of the reviews of it are positive and everybody that has one seems to like it. Some say that it feels a bit less solid than it's more expensive counterparts, but I think that's to be expected when it's coming in at the price that it is.

It's $275...less than half the price of the device that seems to be it's best competitor. that Galaxy Tab. The ONLY issue with the device is that Archos apparently isn't part of some cooperative with the device runs Android, but it doesn't have access to the Google Android Marketplace. Of course, there are hacks that will get it to work and they seem to be pretty easy to do...but...the device does have another application marketplace built into it that seems to have quite a few pretty good apps...and they're all guaranteed to work on the A70.

I went ahead and ordered one tonight from Amazon. I was going to wait, but they only had three left. I also have been reading that supplies that stores have may be all that they get for a while, because they've been selling like mad.

It should be here early next week. I'm looking forward to playing around with it!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fantasy Leagues Are Done...

So...I had two championship games, and it turned out that neither of them was even close. I dominated my opponent in both games, with both being decided by more than 20 points.

Philly's poor game tonight contributed greatly to my both of my opponents had key Eagles players that didn't get the points that they were projected to.

It's been a good I just have one more week of Pick'em and then the playoffs in Pick'em and it'll be the off season. I'm still up by more than 20 in that league, and the third and fourth guys are nowhere near me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Don't Look Now...

...but the Lions have won three straight. After going an NFL record 26 road games without a win, they have now managed to win two games in a row on the road.

They are finally winning some of the close games that they have lost so often over the last few seasons.

I think Trent Dilfer on SportsCenter said it best tonight, when he said "The Lions are a team that continues to grow as a group, and they just keep getting better and better."

Had they not gotten screwed over in both games against the Bears by the officials, they would be at 7-8 right now...and that's if Matt Stafford still gets hurt. I think if he doesn't get hurt this year, they end up being an 8-8 team easily.

It's finally okay to be a Lions fan...because the future seems a little brighter!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to everyone!!!

I'll post a little bit more about my Christmas when I am not dead tired. Work was amazingly exhausting the last couple of days.

Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Another New Game...

So...I know that I said I had too many games, but this was a pretty good deal.

I'd been looking at the "Dangerous Hunts 2011" game for the Wii for a while now. It comes with the game and the light gun thing for $80.

Last week I got a $20 Best Buy Reward Zone certificate for no apparent reason. The catch?? It had to be used by Christmas Eve.

So I went to Best Buy, and what do you know...the "Dangerous Hunts" game was on sale for $35...sowith my certificate I ended up getting it for $15.

Pretty good deal for a game that still sells for $70-$80.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tablet

So, I've been wanting something like an iPad pretty much since I saw the iPad. But I don't really want to spend the money on one, not to mention it's basically just an oversized iPod Touch, which I already have.

I got to looking at some other tablet devices, however, and the Samsung Galaxy Tablet seems to be the one that rises to the top of the list of tablets that are NOT iPads.

It's got some really cool features and is exactly the size of device that I'm looking for...smaller than an iPad but much larger than an iPod. It also runs on Android, so a lot of the Apps that I can get for the iPad are also available for it. I also like that it's got the widescreen on it for movie watching.

I found a great deal on them on a website. You get a $300 Visa gift card for purchasing one, which sweetens the pot even more.

I've been reading reviews and such and they seem to be pretty good products...maybe I'll go ahead and snag one up!!

Fantasy Update...

In my Pick'em league, I managed the exact same amount of points as the guy in we stay in the same positions as before with only two weeks to go.

In my fantasy leagues, I am going to the championship in two.

In the SBN League, Ray Rice picked me up 35 points en route to blowing out the number one seed in the league, and securing a spot in the final.

In my first Yahoo Public league, I am going to go up against the guy that was in second place and right behind me all season for the third time this year. We split the regular season series 1-1, with my win coming by about 5 points and his by basically, he and I are pretty well matched up.

Hopefully I can bring home some trophies!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shopping All Done...

Other than just a few tiny things for stockings, which can be picked up at pretty much any store for a couple of bucks, I'm completely done with my shopping.

I picked up the final gift at the store tonight. I was going to get it on Wednesday at another place, but saw it at the store and figured I'd just go ahead and get it.

Now?? I've got some wrapping to do...and I'm not very good at that, so that will be a project!!!

Taurus Tune Up Update...

So, I got the tune up done to the Taurus today.

And, although the problem is slightly less noticeable, it's still there. The hesitation is still readily felt, but it's not as bad as it was before. I had the plugs, wires, fuel filter, and air filter changed.

I'm at a loss for what it might be, now. I guess I'm going to talk to the mechanic at work again and see if he's got any other ideas...maybe a PVC valve replacement or an EGR valve replacement.

I'm starting to wonder if it's the coil pack in the car. It literally only does it at certain RPMs and certain speeds. Basically, when you are accelerating from a highway speed to a higher speed to pass a car at 4,000 RPM.

The thing that is annoying about it is, I think I've only had to accelerate to a speed at that RPM once since I've had this car, and that was the time I noticed it. So it's a problem that doesn't really have any effect on the driveability of the car...but since I know it's there, I feel like I should take steps to rectify the problem.

Maybe before I put more parts in I'll just run a couple of tanks of premium gas and some good injector cleaner into it to see if that does anything to help with the issue.

Hopefully I can get it all worked out for not a ton of money...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vacation is All Set...

Tonight we reserved our hotel room. It was actually a couple of dollars cheaper today than it was when we found the deal we wanted the other day, so that's always good.

We also purchased our plane tickets. Surprisingly, flying out of Lansing was a good $100 or so cheaper than flying out of Detroit...which actually makes it nearly $200 less because we get free parking at Lansing. Sure, we'll have a layover in Detroit, but that's not that big of a deal...especially if it's saving us a couple of hundred dollars. Not to mention, I know we can get checked in and through security in Lansing in less than 10 minutes, so for a 3:25 flight we will only have to get there about 45 minutes early...where in Detroit it's always good to be there a few hours early.

Right now it's looking like it's going to be a great trip. It's going to be our most nights in Vegas yet, but we've both got our bonus money from work to spend on the trip, so we should be able to have quite a bit of fun.

So now all we have to do is wait until February...which can't come quick enough!!!

Fast Five

will admit that I am a sucker for "Fast and Furious" movies. I absolutely love them. They are a guilty pleasure of mine, and I watch them every time I see any one of them on...

This one looks like it brings back a LOT of the cast from previous movies...
Vin Diesel
Paul Walker
Jordana Brewster
Tryese Gibson
Sun Kang (that's the dude that played Han in "Tokyo Drift" and "Fast and Furious")

It's also got Dwayne Johnson in it, better known by the name The Rock.

I know it's going to be horrible, but I'll love every second of it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tune Up Time for the Taurus...

The other day on the way to work, I went to pass a car on the highway and had to give it quite a bit of gas. When I did that, the car got to about 4,000 RPM and really hesitated badly. I realized that I don't normally get the revs that high, so I tried it again and again it hesitated quite a bit.

I talked to the car guru (he's an ASE Certified Mechanic) at work about it, and he thinks it's probably just time for a tune up. He asked if it was doing anything else odd, and it hasn't been, so he said it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

He mentioned that a car that is 8 years old that only has 64,000 miles on it actually could be in need of some tune up type things that would normally be done at higher mileage. He said that typically the mileage suggestions for maintenance are based on an average driver driving 15,000 miles a year. So if it says you should change your fuel filter at 60,000 miles, it's a good idea to change it at four years if your car hasn't been doing average driving. So basically, even though my car has pretty low miles on it, it's probably time for some of that tune up type maintenance...especially since I'm pretty sure it sat on the dealer's lot for a good long while before I bought it.

So, I'll be handing the Taurus off to him on Sunday for him to do the work. I'll be getting a new air filter, new spark plugs, new spark plug wires, and a new fuel filter.

The mechanic told me that these four things should take care of the hesitation, as it is more than likely being caused by an old fuel filter that isn't flowing very well any more. He told me it should also help increase my fuel economy a little, which is always a good thing when you've got a 90 mile daily commute!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This is Great...

Last night I was looking for "shoulder puppets" on Ebay, and I stumbled across this thing called "Dave the Funky Shoulder Monkey."

I thought it was hilarious, and I did some looking around. Turned out, the Toys R Us near my house had a few left in stock, so this morning I got up early before work (yes, I actually got up more than 10 minutes before I needed to leave for work) and headed to the store to get one.

I didn't get to play around with it until tonight, but it's pretty awesome. Works like a charm.

Basically, it's a small robot that has what is almost like the remote key fob for your car that you hide in your pocket. This key fob can command the robot to do any one of 30 different actions all while hidden from view.

Here's a quick video to show him off. This is the promotional video from the company.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A HORRIBLE Fantasy Week...

So this wasn't my best fantasy week. Not by a long shot.

I went 1-4 in my leagues this week...and worst of all, that one win was NOT in the league that I was in the playoffs in. So I'll make an early exit from that playoff, which isn't really that bad. One less team to worry about setting up for the next few weeks.

It looks like I'll only be making the playoffs in two of my leagues. But the good news is I ended up finishing .500 or better in every one of my leagues.

I went 7-7 in my ESPN League.
I went 8-6 in my SBN League
I went 10-4 in my TSA League.
I went 7-7 in my first Yahoo Public League.
I went 11-3 in my second Yahoo Public League.

That puts me at 43-27 for the season, which isn't too shabby.

The only good part about this week?? I gained another point on the guy in second in the Pick'em I'm slowly but surely pulling away from everyone in that league.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

One Down...Nine to Go...

I finished the first of my many games that I need to finish today.

"Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" took me about 12 hours to finish, but in truly awesome style, it only took me two sittings. When I first started the game, I didn't even notice it, but nine hours later I finally quit. It was that engaging.

I finished the game tonight, and I have to say it has rocketed right into the Top 3 of my all time favorite single player games. It was absolutely amazing.

The best part?? I finished it today...and Sony announced, officially, "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception" this afternoon.

How's that for timing??

Next up..."Enslaved" for the Xbox 360...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sin City, Here We Come!!!

We got our bonuses from work, and although they may not have been quite what we were hoping for, they still will be plenty to have an absolute blast out in Las Vegas.

We're going from February 14th to the 19th. It will be the first time that we are staying five nights, but the hotel is a good deal so we figured we might as well stay the fifth night.

My parents are actually helping us pay for the hotel as a Christmas gift, and my grandparents are paying for our the trip is going to be relatively inexpensive for us, which means that we'll have plenty of money to do fun stuff with.

I'm looking forward to going...I love it out there!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Still Hitting the Training Camp...

I've had it for over a week now, and today I did my seventh workout in "NFL Training Camp" for the Wii.

So far, so good.

I've really enjoyed the program so far. It's got a diverse amount of workouts. I have it set on "moderate" so it's not working me too hard, but so far each time I've done it I've ended up pretty sweaty. I didn't even use to get sweaty with my Power 90 program.

I like the QB challenges the best, but the kicker drills and receiving drills are also really fun.

The only thing I do NOT like about the program is the amount of squats it wants me to do. I had to do a ton of squats in the Power 90 while I was doing it, but this leaves that in the dust. It sometimes seems like I'm doing squats for 20 minutes straight. It never is really more than 2 minutes, but after several sessions of different squats in one workout, it seems like a bit of overkill.

I'm really having a good time with this workout, which I think is the key to having success. So far I've looked forward to doing it every time I've been scheduled to do it, which is the exact opposite of any other workout program I've ever tried.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Buffet Time!!!

Today Cathy and I went to the Firekeeper's Casino Buffet.

We hadn't been in a while, and she wanted to go before the weather started to get too bad to worry about driving 30 miles for dinner.

We got there right before five and got in for the lunch price. That's the trick at the buffet there...get there just a few minutes before dinner and you pay the lunch price, but get the dinner food. It saves you a couple of bucks.

I had a bunch of good stuff...but the thing I liked the most was some blackened catfish that they hadn't had before. I had several pieces of it and I really liked it. I'll have to keep my eyes open for it in the future when we go back.

After we were done eating, we went to the gift shop in the Casino and surprisingly, they had a lot more good stuff than they had in the past. Both Cathy and I ended up getting a few things. I got a pretty cool Firekeeper's tee shirt and a piggy bank, and Cathy got a bar of soap that has a dollar bill inside of it. The thing is, you don't know WHAT the bill could be a one, a five, a ten, a twenty, or a fifty. It's pretty cool.

We had a really good time going there, and I'm guessing won't be going back for a few months.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Picture of Cooper...

...taken with the new camera. This one has a ton of detail in it if you view it in full screen.

I'm liking this new camera quite a bit. It takes pretty amazing pictures.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fantasy Football Update...

So, it was an up and down week for me this week.

I ended up losing a few and winning a few.

First off, in my league, I ended up losing. I sat Big Ben because I figured with his banged up foot and going against the Ravens he wouldn't have had a good game. I started Brett Favre. Obviously if you watch any of the NFL, you know how that turned out. Big Ben ended up getting 12 points...Brett ended up throwing a pick on his first pass and then got he got -2 points. Go figure, I lost the game by 10. Had I started Big Ben like I was originally planning, I'd have won by 4 points. Oh well. I fall to 8-5 in that league, but I've got a playoff spot locked up. I'm in fourth right now, and I play the guy in third next week, which will determine which of us ends up third.

Then, in my TSA league, I was losing by 8 going into the game on Monday night. I had Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes. Should have been an easy win, right?? Well, Sanchez's three picks didn't help, but I managed to get NINE points and come away with a one point win. I will climb to 10-3, have the second seed going into the playoffs, and play against a guy who's team is pretty beat up.

In my first Yahoo Public league, the one that I was tied for first (but in second because of points) I ended up getting a win. I will climb to 11-2, and the guy that I was tied with lost to fall to 10-3, so I will be alone in first place again. I've already locked up a playoff spot in that league, so we're just fighting for positioning now.

In my second Yahoo Public league, I came back on the Monday night game to get a win to climb to 6-7. Believe it or not, I'm still technically not out of the playoffs in that league. I don't think I'll end up making the playoffs, but I would really like to fight back to 7-7 in that league. I started 1-3 and was 3-7 in that league, so getting to .500 would be awesome.

In my ESPN league I got trounced, and I will fall to 7-6. I don't think I'll be making the playoffs in that league, but it's lame because overall I think I'm fourth...but I'm third in my division, which means I'll miss the playoffs...but had I been in the other division I'd probably be in.

So that makes me 42-23 on the season...not bad considering how in a couple of those leagues I was under .500 after the first six weeks. I've made more roster moves this year than I have in the past, and luckily some of them have paid off big time.

On top of all of this, I had the best overall record in my Pick'Em league for the second straight week. I actually gained TWENTY points on the guy in I'm now up by 23 in that league. In three weeks I went from second place and down 22 points, to first and up by 23. I'm 72 points ahead of the guy in third, and 76 points ahead of the guy in fourth. So basically it's looking like it's going to be a match between myself and Scott (the guy in second) for the last four weeks.

Overall, a pretty solid performance this week.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Some Fun With The New Camera...

So I've been playing around with the new camera.

Getting the gist of things with it. Like, is it better to use a flash in low light pictures or to let the shutter stay open longer?? I've found that if the image stays still, the pictures seem more natural if you let the shutter stay open longer. I've also found that I have no clue what an f-stop is...and I really don't know how to use it.

But one thing that I learned tonight was really cool. If you set the camera up and leave it's shutter open for a good long time (like 30 seconds) you can go in front of the camera in a dark room and then "write" messages with light and they will end up showing up on the image.

This was just a quick one, mainly because I didn't have much room to work with...but I think you'll get what it's saying.

I'm going to try doing a couple more of them tomorrow night when I can set the camera up in an area that I know I have more room to work with. This seems like a really cool way to take some pictures, and even though it wouldn't really do any good for actually capturing scenes, it does make for a pretty interesting looking image.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

BCS Championship Is Set...

...and I'm rooting for Oregon.

I'm tired of the SEC winning the National Championship. It's getting a bit old.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The New Camera...

The new camera came the other day, and I got to play around with it a little bit.

After getting used to the zoom and some of the features, I started taking some photos. I found that it does photos at night really well with the aid of a tripod. I can take the photos in the "Auto" mode where it sets everything for me, or I can take them in the "Scenery" mode with it set to night. Both come up with really good looking night time photos. I took a few pictures of our house and some things in the neighbor's yard while you could barely see them, and they came out really well. It was really easy to tell what I was taking pictures of.

Next I tried the macro settings out and got some good VERY close up shots of some really small items. I have some "Halo" video game figures that stand about an inch tall. In the macro mode, the details of the item in the photo were incredible. I was really happy with the way the macro photos came out, and I was taking them in light that probably wasn't really ideal.

Last, I took some pictures of the dogs. One of Cooper in particular stood out as a really good photo. The zoom brought him right into the center of the photo, even though he was a good 8 feet or so from me. What really struck me was that you can actually see the dog hair that's covering the slip cover on the couch that the dogs always sleep on.

Here's the photo here.

Overall, I'm really happy with the initial photos. I'm really looking forward to getting out with the tripod and trying out some longer distance shots during the day time to see how well they turn out.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Too Many Games...

Right now I'm in game overload mode.

I'm the type of person that normally only has one or two games that I actually play at a time. I generally try to have less than a total of five or six games in my collection at any time. I usually figure if I've finished a game and moved on, the chances of me going back to play it are really slim, so I might as well just trade it in or sell it and move on.

But right now I have WAY too many games...and most of them I still need to actually finish...or even start as I haven't even opened a few of them.

The list goes as follows:
For the Nintendo Wii
1. Goldeneye
2. Epic Mickey

For the Xbox 360
1. Saboteur
2. Enslaved
3. WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2010

For the PS3
1. Fairy Tale Fights
2. Little Big Planet
3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
4. inFamous
5. Killzone 2

So, right now, I actually have TEN different games that I need to play. That doesn't include my workout game, "EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp" or the fact that a HUGE update for "Battlefield 2" is on the way, and I've recently gotten back into playing "Battlefield 2" online, so that is taking up some of my gaming time.

Add to this the fact that a couple of these games, "Little Big Planet" and "Killzone 2," both have sequels that come out in the next few months and I have a bunch of games that I really need to get going on.

I think that I'll tackel "Uncharted 2" first, then follow that up with "Enslaved." After that I'll move on to "Little Big Planet" and "Killzone." After that, I'm not really sure.

Either way, I really need to get started on getting through some of them. I honestly don't like having so many games laying around that I need to play.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Most of My Shopping is Done...

So, I've gotten most of my Christmas shopping done already, and it's just the start of December.

This is good, because now I can take my couple of paychecks this month and put them towards the credit cards that I need to get paid down.

I have my mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa all done. I have my nephew almost done and my sister and brother in law will be done in a couple of days.

As far as Cathy goes, I have all but one of the things I was planning on getting her, and of course I will need to get some stocking stuffers as well.

It's nice to be able to say that I pretty much have all of my shopping done with more than three weeks left until Christmas. It means that even if I need to come up with something else at the last minute, I'll still have the time (and more importantly the money) to do so.