Saturday, December 31, 2011

Financial Year in Review

Since this is the last day of 2011, I decided to do my monthly/yearly net worth calculation as well as year end % gain/loss in our retirement/stock accounts.  Since the results were worse than expected, I wanted to get them out there today on the last day of the year to start the year out fresh and look forward to better things in 2012!

First off, utilizing the S&P 500 as the benchmark, the stock market started and ended the year at the same level.  That is so hard to believe with all the volatility over this year with the Euro crisis that we finished exactly where we started.  In actuality it was 1257.64 on Jan 1 2011 and it ended at 1257.60, so to be fair the market was down 4 cents for the year.  But basically the market returned 0% for the year.  That is your benchmark.  So to determine if you did well relative to the overall market, you need to compare your rate of return for the year to 0%.

Looking at all of our accounts here are our results for the year:

My 401K  -3.7%
My Trading Account  -5.8%
My Roth IRA  -4.4%

Wife 401K  -19.48%
Wife Roth IRA  -2.7%

So, as you see the results did not do well relative to the 0% return of the overall market.  Overall the numbers aren't particularly troubling for me except for that one -19.48% for my wife's 401K.  Looking further we had put all of the contributions in the mutual fund MPEGX.  That is a Morgan Stanley Mid-Cap Growth fund.  Taking a look at most of the growth funds available in my wife's account, for the period ended Sept 30th, most were around the same % loss as this fund or worse.  I am going to research all of those funds again and probably move out of that fund and into another less volatile fund.  I don't like the long term chart on that one.

Overall my wife's Roth IRA performed the best and her account is in the Vanguard target date 2045 fund VTIVX.  Which is a much better looking chart minus the precipitous decline when the bottom dropped out of the market in the recession of 2008/9.  So that tells me that it is true, that overall those Vanguard very low fee, target date funds are very good investments and I'm very happy with those for our Roth IRAs.  Mine is in the slightly more aggressive VEXMX.  It was an experiment on my part to see which performs better and she beat me out there.  I may swap mine over to VTIVX.

NetWorth wise I wasn't super happy with the results either.  I think I mentioned in my first post about NetWorth that I would be keeping track of things on a month by month basis and would only change the value of our house and vehicles at the end of each year.  Our car values are actually the same as they were last year, so no change there.  The house however surprisingly lost 10k in value.  I say surprisingly, because I checked 2 or 3 times during the year and it had actually inched up at one point.  But it is what it is, nothing we can really do about that.  So with that 10k decrease, the declines in our retirement accounts and just the regular numbers with amount of $ going out vs coming in, our overall NetWorth went up 8.7%.  Much better than 0 or negative, but in terms of actual $$ increase I was surprised it wasn't higher.

At any rate, that's a snapshot of 2011 and I'm looking forward to putting that behind us and looking forward to a hopefully much better year financially in 2012 and wish the same for you as well!  If you have any specific questions or comments about what I mentioned above, please leave a comment or drop me an email at  I am very interested to hear how your results for 2011 compare.  It's way too nice out with a temperature of 75 degrees here and all sun and it's time to stop checking numbers and head to the beach to enjoy the last day of 2011!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

1st Year of My Blog - Recap

Wow, I'm shocked that today is the last week day of 2011!  I was planning to do several days of posts going back over my first year in blog land, but with the new year less than 2 days away looks like I'll have to fit it all in today!

My first year in blogging has been fun!  I wasn't quite sure I would have the content/desire to stick with it, but in the end I did stick with it and am very glad I did!  I took a week or two off when we were out of town or I needed a break, but out of 260 total weekdays, I posted 224 times for an overall rate of 86%.  Far better than I thought I would do!

I enjoy checking my stats on a regular basis to see how many people are stopping by, what my most popular posts are, how people are finding a particular post, where they're coming from, etc. and I thought I would highlight some fun facts from the past year of my blog:

The Path To Riches 2011 Stat Highlights

Total Pageviews  13,117

Top 10 Posts:
Mar 30, 2011  450 Pageviews

Jan 7, 2011  274 Pageviews 

Mar 15, 2011  216 Pageviews

May 20, 2011  197 Pageviews

Mar 4, 2011  114 Pageviews

Sep 6, 2011  112 Pageviews

Dec 14, 2011 92 Pageviews

Jul 13, 2011  80 Pageviews

Aug 31, 2011  62 Pageviews

Top Referring Blogs:

Pageviews by Country:
US 9383,  Ukraine 685, Russia 351, Canada 337, UK 288, Germany 227

I find it quite interesting what posts ended up in the top 10.  I was really surprised that so many people searched for 'same siders' and that people were also apparently interested in watching paint dry.  It's also funny how people arrived at certain pages.  Apparently the Happy Birthday Mom and Happy Anniversary posts got a lot of hits because of the images that I had on that page.  Someone would search for a Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary picture on Bing and they'd hit my page.  Never really expected that.  And thanks to my sister Jen, Michelle Manning and Jen S for bringing in people to my blog!

Looking back over all of the posts from the year, I enjoyed all of the trips taken this year and those posts were some of my favorites.  The trip to Anna Maria Island over by Tampa/Sarasota stands out for me due to the unexpectedly amazing clear/blue water. 

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana
Anna Maria Island - Amazing Water Views
Anna Maria Island Trip - Part 3
Oswego Harborfest Update 1
Oswego Harborfest Update 2
Oswego Harborfest Update 3
Trip to Rochester NY - Finale
Tampa Weekend Recap
Tampa Weekend Recap 2
Spontaneous Disney World Weekend
Treasure Island Florida Fun

But my favorite overall post and video clip was when THE BILLS BEAT THE PATRIOTS!   Which is funny because the Bills play the Patriots in our final game of the season this Sunday on New Years day!  We plan to meetup with our local Bills Backers fans once again after sitting out most of the mid-season games due to their disappointing losses.  The season was a bit of a let down after such an explosive start, but if we can wrap it up with a sweep of the Patriots in addition to that beat down of Tebow we had last week to keep them local Gators fans quiet for a while, it will do wonders for our off season morale and would be a great start to 2012!

Oh and one last minute favorite post to add!  My brother-in-law David just texted me a picture of the 20 - $25 Gift Cards that he got as a result of signing up for the Chase Signature Visa - Southwest Rapid Rewards card I mentioned in this blog post.  If you haven't signed up, definitely check it out!  If you and a spouse both sign up for the current deal, you would each get $431 for a total of $862!!  Just for checking out my post and signing up.  I don't get a thing for you clicking the links or anything, it's just a deal I found on Slickdeals and it works!  I have the gift cards to prove it as well.  It's my gift to you to start out 2012 with some serious cash money!

All those stats are fun to look back on, however, I am rating the first year of The Path To Riches a huge success not because of how many times I posted or how many page views I got, but based on the interactions I've had with all of you out there!  I really enjoy all the comments/messages I receive and on most posts I'm trying to add value to your lives in some small way.  Whether it is sharing an inspirational article I read online, offering advice on achieving financial freedom, helping to make you money / save money, provoking thought, sharing an opinion or just plain making you smile/laugh, I hope this first year has been as enjoyable for you as it has been for me!  Here's to an even better happy, healthy, prosperous New Year for 2012!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ben Breedlove Viral Video

I just saw this on the evening news and had watched the video an hour before from a link I saw on one of the news sites and thought I would share.  Ben Breedlove was an inspiration to lots of younger folks with his OurAdvice4You video channel answering questions typical young kids would have.  On Christmas morning, while playing with his younger brother in the family's backyard, Ben Breedlove succumbed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which causes a thickening of heart muscle, went into cardiac arrest, and died.  In the days following, Breedlove's final two videos, that his family did not know he created have gone viral, totalling more than 2.2 million views.  His previous videos had maxed out around 20,000 views.  In his last two videos he does not say a word but cycles through a series of flash cards to the music "Mad Love" by Gary Jules.  Even in his death he continues to be an inspiration to more people than he probably ever imagined.  Rest in peace. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in Atlanta

We had a great time visiting with family over the holidays.  We had some great food, good times and had lots of fun.  Unfortunately we didn't take very many pictures, but below are some from my cell phone.  I hope you all had a great Christmas holiday with family/friends as well!

Our room companion, Bella
Molly did a great job of opening her gift
Jen cooking up Gma's sauce recipe
So freakin good, craving it right now!
Fried turkey compliments of James/Michelle
Baby Max's closet organizer we helped David install / paint
All filled up with stuff
Homemade M A X frames Shell/James did

Wall shelves and nursery pretty much all set

The homemade gifts:  recipe book, headphone pouch, kitchen towels and picture frame from Jen/David and menu board from James/Michelle...luckily all of it survived in the luggage on the return home!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Are you in a Holidaze?  Dazed and confused/stressed from all the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping/planning/festivities?!  Hopefully not, I'm definitely not stressed this year.  Work has been steadily winding down as the week goes on and I've been working from home every day this week except Monday, so it's been a nice stress free start to the holidays!

Unfortunately the wifey is pretty sick with a nasty cough/cold/fever, but she did manage to get into work today and will be getting some antibiotics today to help her recovery time, so hopefully by Friday she'll be doing much better! 

Can't wait to see the family and our kitty/doggie nieces Maddie, Bella and Molly!  And almost equally as exciting, my sister Jen is making Grandma's sauce!  Yummmmmmy!  Can't wait for that as well...Good times ahead!

I will probably take a few days off from blogging while hanging with the family, but mid-next week I hope to get in a year end recap highlighting some of my favorite/popular posts, successes/not-so-successes from last years goals and a look ahead to new goals for 2012!

I posted my review of the American Horror Story season finale on my original post about the show.  

If you don't hear back from me before this weekend, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas

I don't know about you, but it seems that the countdown to the holidays has been going faster than the speed of light!  With all the holiday festivities, entertaining and just the regular everyday activities, something always seems to get in the way of holiday shopping! 

If you're not finished and having a hard time coming up with ideas, I'm here to help!  I've mentioned previously that these days I do probably over 85% of my shopping online and I'd say the overwhelming majority is on Amazon.  I always have good luck finding the best deals there, typically don't have to pay for tax and their shipping is fast, especially during this time of year. 

If you are stumped for ideas, one great way to find some is to browse the most popular gifts ordered on Amazon.  That is a great way to see what other people have ordered, all sorted by category.  That should go a long way to triggering some ideas for everyone still left on your list.  And until 11:59pm on Wednesday Dec 21st Amazon is offering FREE one day shipping on select products.

Gadget wise, the Kindle Fire is their hottest selling item, with their regular Kindle eReaders coming in a close second with a price drop to $79 with sponsored offers.  In the kitchen and dining department the top item is a 5 in 1 Cuisinart Griddler.  Hmm...Griddler you say?  That's certainly what I said, what the heck is a Griddler?  Apparently it is a 5-in-1countertop unit that works as a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, and half grill/half griddle all for $89 with free shipping!  Pretty inventive!

In the kids electronics area, the Air Swimmer Remote Control Inflatable Flying Shark is the hot item this year.  Another very cool new idea!  This seems like it might be great fun for messing with family pets as well.

You can also browse the Amazon Top Holiday Deals, Toys Under $10, Up to 70% off Top Toy Brands, etc.  There are so many ways to get good ideas/great deals and I think you would have a tough time finding a gift idea that is not available on Amazon.  Much to my surprise, they even sell automobile tires!  I'll be in the market for some of those in a few months and will probably use Amazon for that as well.  Great prices and free shipping on those too.

If you've gotten this far and still haven't figured out what to get, your answer is Amazon Gift Cards!  Your gift card receiver will be able to get whatever they want, for a great price and they are guaranteed to be able to find something they like!  In addition, you can email them the gift card and/or can print it along with a free holiday card, so you can do that right up until 30 seconds before opening gifts if you would like!

Good luck and Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Verizon $149 / $199 / $249

The new Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone was released today on Verizon!  To be honest, I didn't know a thing about it until today when I read a bunch of the articles announcing the release.  That said, it looks like it is THE phone to have as far as Android phones go.  It is the first Android phone to top the retina display that the iPhone 4S has.  It packs a 4.65" Super AMOLED insane 1280x720 true HD display.  In addition it's also the first phone to get Android 4.0, which is called Ice Cream Sandwich. 

It has a Dual-Core 1GHz CPU, 1GB of memory, 32GB of storage and 5MP rear/1.5MP front cam and of course the Verizon 4G LTE network.

It looks like a great phone and a few of the hard core gadget guys at work got their phone first thing this morning.  This is the top Android phone on Verizon right now and if you're looking for a phone with Ice Cream Sandwich, this is the only one!

The regular price through Verizon is $299 with a new 2 year contract.  However, there is a great deal if you follow this link for both new and existing Verizon customers.    For new customers you can get the phone for $149 with a new 2 year contract.  Existing customers that are on an individual plan can get the phone for $199 and those on a family plan for $249 with a contract extension.

And also for a limited time, they are offering double the data for the same price.  The regular data plan includes 2GB, which gets doubled to 4GB.  For anyone with an existing contract that is eligible for an upgrade and was grandfathered into the unlimited plan, like myself, I believe the unlimited data transfers over as long as you don't change any of your contract details and just extend it.  Don't quote me on the unlimited data part, that is just what I've read based on Android Forum posts.  Definitely check into the specifics of each plan to make sure they meet your needs. 

It's a great deal on the best Android phone out there.  Be the envy of all your friends and get the only Android phone out there with Ice Cream Sandwich!  Yummy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

American Horror Story

American Horror Story is an awesome freaky/scary show on FX that has gotten even better as the season progresses!  Initially we watched the first two episodes and thought, what the *$#& just happend?!  It was so weird and unlike anything else we've seen, that we weren't exactly sure what was going on.  There was just so much freaky unexplained stuff that it was difficult to wrap your mind around it and it was almost stressful watching it.  But now that we are down to the last 2 episodes of season 1, I have to say it was SO worth the effort to stick with it.  We now have a much better understanding of the big picture and can't wait to see how things continue to unfold. 

SPOILER ALERT:  Last week's episode Smoldering Children was kinda mind blowing.  We find out that Violet actually killed herself taking all of the pills several episodes back, but we never knew it and as a result, is now stuck in the house forever with the rest of them!  And Tate has been protecting her from finding out.  CrAzY!  Totally reminds me of the Sixth Sense movie.  This week's episode Birth was great as well!  The first baby was supposedly stillborn, but I'm guessing that's not the last we'll see of that one.  And with Vivien now on the other side, will Ben hang in there or come on over as well?  So many questions, so little time.  

I found a recap or two here.  And here is a season one finale sneak peek from E!.

I was talking about the show with a co-worker, who is also very into the show and we came across the following sites that are freaky/awesome as well!  Must see sites for anyone that likes the show!

You're Going to Die in There - This is an FX network site that is totally interactive and you click around and go into the house and can check out individual items and take a virtual spooky tour.  Very wild stuff.  And be sure to also click on the mailbox to register.  They will apparently send you a physical artifact from the house!  :-o  Check out this post on what this one site received, pretty elaborate!  I don't think regular average peeps would receive a wedding cake like that, but I will find out!  I just put in my info to receive one and will let you know what it is when I get it!

American Horror Story House Calls - This is insane, if you sign-up to 'let them in', a character from the show will come to your house at some undetermined point in some undetermined way to pay you a visit.  Whoa man, F that!  That would be freaky as $*%!  Be sure to check out the video links showing people they've visited already...Here is one, so great!

The Real American Horror Story House in LA - Great info on the actual house in LA.  And here's the location of the house on Google Maps.  It appears the house is for sale as well if you have 17 million burning a hole in your pocket.  I could so NOT live in that house, but would be cool to visit!   

Great show!  Be sure to check it out!

Season One Finale SPOILER Update:  Well...that's it?  I was very disappointed in the finale.  I thought last week's episode the Birth was way more exciting.  For this one we kinda expected something was going to happen to Ben, whether by his own doing or otherwise.  I didn't expect him to be hung and so early on, but still, was expecting more.  The scene with all the dead folks doing their thing to either go after or scare away the new family kinda reminded me of the movie Betelgeuse where they were trying to scare away the new folks that moved into their house after they died also.  And of course we all figured the baby next door was evil, maybe a little surprising he killed so early, but no real twist there either.  We've become so accustomed to earth shattering twists in the show lately that the finale came up a bit short.  And no real loose ends to keep you wondering what is next for the new season.  Oh well, great show, bad finale.  Hopefully next season they'll step it back up. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Men In Black 3 Trailer

Check it out, looks cool!  If you are on a PC, check out the HD/larger version on their website here:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Building a New Website

I'm in the process of researching tools and checking out sites that provide lots of good info on creating a website and driving traffic to your site.  There is SO much information out there.  When you find a good site on a topic such as creating a static website, you may find all sorts of other good info on something completely different and get ahead of yourself on another topic for an hour or two. 

I am going to create a quick list of items that I need to do, in the order I think I should do them to make better use of my time and keep myself on track.  Hopefully they will also be helpful to you if you are planning to create a website as well.  Here's how I think I should be going about setting up the new site, please feel free to add in some steps or offer suggestions if you have experience on any of the items below!

Setting up a Website:

1)  Come up with a domain name that matches the main topic or niche of your website.  Register the site with a domain name provider.  This step is complete.  For my travel niche site I registered through  I've used them to register several domain names since 2003 and it's generally very cut and dry, but when I did have a question or two, their support was helpful and responsive which is very important.  If you click though either link, you'll get their current special rate of $7.49 for 1 year .com registrations instead of the regular 11.99 price and I will get a small %.  Thanks for your support.

2)  Gather related content from past blog post, past reviews we've written on sites like Trip Advisor, etc.  Copy/paste the material into Google docs to share between my wife and I so that we can both be working on this and have access to review/modify the info as needed.

3)  Research and try out different website publishing software or websites which provide tools to do so, in order to decide on one to utilize for the site.  This might include offline programs such as DreamWeaver, open source programs like Komposer, or programs like WordPress, most synonymous with Blogs.

4)  Plug the content from item 2 into the tool in item three to setup/test a local copy of the website.  Setup at least 5-10 pages of content initially to make sure that you have enough information on at least one main topic to keep a visitor's attention and make them want to return for more information in the future.

5)  Once the local copy is put together and the overall site layout is finalized with the initial content, choose a web hosting company to house the website.  This step requires that you have done some research and read lots of reviews on the various hosting companies, have checked out any demos that their sites provide, have asked them a question or two to see how responsive they are and have reviewed their money back guarantees, etc.

6)  Publish the content, test/verify that all behaves as expected and go live with the site!  One important step is to be sure that you have a local backup copy of your site any time you update the site.  Also be sure that you research what it takes to secure your site as best that you possibly can to try and limit your exposure to having your site hacked.

7)  Utilize tools or widely available methods to drive traffic to your site and to get your site to rank in the top 10 for specific related search words/terms in Google. 

8)  Monetize the site with relevant affiliate links, AdSense and eventually line up Sponsors for your site once the traffic arrives.  Be up front with your visitors about such links and thank them for their support. 

Once you have all that done, you'll have your new website online and accessible to the world and eventually, with continued hard work and diligence, it will provide you with a source of passive income.  Pretty exciting eh?  In reality, I could do steps 1-5 in a day or two, but I want to take the time to try and pick the right site creation software and web host up front.  In general, I find that the extra research usually pays off and if I can avoid having to switch to a whole new site setup software/host in the near term, that will give me more time for doing the important stuff like publishing additional content and bringing in traffic.  

Right now I'm currently not following the order above.  I'm scouring the internet in steps 3 and 5, trying to figure out what software or tool to utilize for the creation of the website and reading reviews on which web hosting company to choose to house the site.  The hosting company you choose has some bearing on the item you will choose to setup the website.  Many hosting companies support WordPress and provide a 1 click option to install WordPress on your site and a process to keep it up to date.

So far I've found a great site on the entire process of setting up a website to generate passive income with a ton of tools, content, videos, etc.  I'd highly recommend checking out that site, there is a ton of great info.  I emailed the site creator to ask a few questions over the weekend.  I also found another site on building a static website with WordPress that I'm reading through.  I do not want the site to be a blog that requires daily updates, I want it to be static in nature that I can add more and more content to over time, but it wouldn't hurt to be able to utilize commenting systems or other things that WordPress offers.  In addition I'm reading reviews on this site and others, trying to find honest reviews of decent web hosting companies and trying to weed through the fluff reviews from people whose sole goal is to derive income from steering people to specific web hosts that pay them the most money. 

All in all it's a bit overwhelming, but fun at the same time.  I'm learning a lot along the way that will be helpful in the future.  Do you have any suggestions on good software or sites for creating a website.  Do you have any experiences good or bad with specific web hosting companies?

Please leave me a comment below or drop me an email at and I will also be sure to provide updates on how things are going along the way.  Thanks!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Where's My Water? Android and iPhone

I came across this super fun game yesterday called Where's My Water?  It is made by Disney and it is very impressive!  It is along the same lines as the very popular Cut the Rope, but is very different in that it involves flowing water.  You have to control the flowing water around the various levels with your eventual goal to get it into the pipe that fills the tub for the Alligator and he can take a shower/bath!  Who doesn't want to help a cartoon Alligator take a bath?!  8-)

Along the way you pick up rubber duckies and hidden objects to open up bonus levels.  It is really impressive graphics wise and the best part is the ease to be able to pick it up and put it down.  You can play a few levels in minutes and then put it back down or go through and play for an hour if you'd like.

Not counting the 10 cent games I purchased this week, this is only the second game/app I've purchased and it is WELL worth the 99 cents.  It is very unique and addictive/fun.  Check out the pictures/reviews on either the Amazon App Store for Android or Apple App Store and try it out for yourself, you won't be disappointed.  I think I'll go play some now.  Have a great weekend!

UPDATE:  If you happen to be reading this post on 12/14/2011, the app is 10 cents in the Android Market for their 10 days of 10 cent apps promotion.  Get it while it's hot!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kitty Xanax!

We have a kitty named Sage that is naughty at times.  How can that be when he looks so calm and relaxed above?!  ;)  I found him as a tiny kitten on a sidewalk driving home from work one Sunday morning and he was very playful and about to jump into the road.  I grabbed him and saved his little kitty life.  He was a very fun loving, normal acting kitten, but would leave little poop nuggets in the room we kept him in initially.  Once we got him litter trained he was relatively good, but things like strangers visiting would usually cause him to hide and we might find further surprises afterwards. 

Monkey checking out tiny!

Fast forward a few years later into our current home and we weren't aware that he was having issues, but we had a lot going on.  We had moved into our current home, had a bunch of repairs and workers coming in over several months and also, we had several stray cats that would come out at night and wander around outside.

We would see him stare outside through our sliding glass door at night and then he would all of a sudden sprint from one room to another and try and look out the windows in those rooms, but we didn't know what he saw.  Eventually we saw the cats/kittens outside during the day and put 2 and 2 together and realized he was probably either scared or territorial towards the other cats and acting out.

He also did not like anything with a dog smell on it.  I brought an old computer that a co-worker gave me for parts into the house to take something out of it and Sage went right over to it and pee'd right on it.  He had 2 dogs.  

We purchased a hand held black light spot checker / Urine Off and we found/cleaned a spot or two and both the black light and product worked very well!  I'd definitely recommend it if you suspect you might have a spot or two from a pet accident, the black light will definitely bring it to light and the cleaner will take care of it.

That is an essential product in any pet owner's arsenal!  They have the same product for cleaning dog urine as well.  You can start with those smaller sizes I linked to initially, but assuming you find it works or if you know you have a problem, you can go with the larger sizes for cats and dogs and save some $.

Recently, we've had guests stay over and after about 30 minutes, he comes out and is his normal self.  No surprises.  Door bells and strange voices like the UPS guy usually send him scurrying to find a place to hide, but usually only for a few minutes and no other issues.  

However, when we leave town and the pet sitter comes over, all bets are off.  We find that he does not like the pet sitter at all.  We suspect it is due to her bringing all of the smells from other animals she pet sits for into the house and it sets him off.

Generally once we're home he's fine, but he may go into the litter box multiple times in a row for a few days, sometimes up to 10 times in like 15-20 minutes.

He isn't blocked at all, because we've been through that before with another cat and know what that's like, it's just a matter of him being very stressed and it causes him temporary problems.  After a few days, it's like nothing ever happened and he's back to his normal self and life goes on. 

I saw this post for Xanax to the Rescue on the side of my sister Jen's blog from her friend Leah and thought this might be exactly what we need!  It was right after we got back and I was trying to research other potential options like trying a new pet sitter, or other means to try and fix him up and thought maybe that was a sign!

We took him to the vet Saturday for his annual checkup and they said all is well and his blood work is all good, so they said it does sound like stress/behavioral only and they prescribed him generic Xanax to try and fix him up.  We will be starting him out on that tonight or tomorrow and we're hoping it is a miracle drug that helps calm him down and make us all much happier!  If not, we may need a few prescriptions ourselves!

I'll keep you updated on his progress!  Wish Sage and us good luck and if you're experiencing a similar issue, we feel your pain and would love to hear about anything that has helped you out as well!

Sorry, I don't mean to be bad, I just have anxiety issues!  :o)

If you happen to be a human being and are suffering from anxiety or panic attacks, be sure to check out this linden method reviews site. It is a great site/program for eliminating anxiety and panic attacks, without the use of medications or expensive therapies.  Too bad something similar won't work for cats! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

10 Days of 10 Cent Android Apps

Check out the Android Market  for 10 top paid apps for 10 cents each.  It's a promotion they have running for 10 days. They have 10 new apps/games each day.  I picked up Great Little War Game yesterday and Reckless Racing today.   Today they also have Fruit Ninja, which was a prior free app of the day on Amazon and Flick Golf, which is the only game I paid for prior to this week.  That is definitely worth 10 cents.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gen 1 iPad App Suggestions?

I have a 1st generation iPad just for this week.  Work had some leftover from a trade show or something and they gave 1 to each of the main groups to test out for on-call to see if it would work out.  Since I'm on-call this week I connected into work with it today and it's ok, but really not a worthy laptop replacement. 

Anything I should be sure to try while I have it as far as apps/games/cool things go? 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Travel Website

I mentioned on Friday that I got an idea from our little getaway over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I check my Google Analytic stats for my blog every couple days to see what pages are most popular and consistently my post for Vacation - Majestic Elegance Punta Cana is always at the top.  It's the most popular post overall as well, with over 600 page views.  In addition, I've been posting about our recent trip over the Thanksgiving holiday to Treasure Island FL and did a bunch of research prior to our trip recently as well.  We've also had great luck with Apple Vacations recently and they currently have some great deals!  All of that got me thinking that I should look into creating a separate travel related website.

I could share information about all of our past travels, try and provide some insider tips and off the beaten path advice on places to visit, etc.  Basically I'd try and create a web site where people searching on a particular location would find my page, get advice on what to do/see and I would also offer links which would hopefully be helpful to visitors such as links to book a place to stay, links to supplies for their trips and could even provide a free ebook of travel tips or something.  Basically, it would be a website to post a lot of travel related content, something my wife and I really enjoy researching and posting about already and I could turn it into a revenue generating site as well through targeted ads, affiliate links and things of that nature.

I'm just starting to brain storm ideas, but I'd really appreciate any advice for topics/ideas and even an overall website name/URL.  I'm thinking it should probably contain the word travel in the URL, since I think that would help to automatically bring in traffic when people search on the term travel.  If you have any good info on Search Engine Optimization and URLs and stuff, let me know.  I'll be doing research on web hosting companies to find an inexpensive, reliable place to store the website data and if you have any suggestions on that as well, that would be great.

The site will be a website of static content that will expand over time the more places we go, so really it will motivate us to take more trips, which will provide more content and more links to generate $, which would motivate us to take more trips, you get the idea.  It should take on a life of it's own over time and eventually it could be a passive stream of income.  I envision my wife also taking part in the project and providing a good deal of the content/review/pictures and being able to publish that content as well. 

Either leave me a comment or drop me an email (chris "at"  Thanks ahead of time for any suggestions!

2/3/2012 Update:  Check out my new Travel related site It is a work-in-progress, but I'd love to have you stop by and offer advice/suggestions on what you'd like to see!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Treasure Island Florida Fun

Here are some pictures of the great time we had on our 4 night stay in Treasure Island Florida over the long Thanksgiving weekend.  Getaways are always good to give you a fresh perspective and many times, that break from the everyday routine provides a spark and some inspiration.  That quick trip did provide a spark for me and a new idea.  I'll do a post next week once I brainstorm my idea a bit more.  Until then, enjoy the virtual trip to Treasure Island!
Our condo had a fantastic view of the beach/gulf at the South Beach Condo Hotel.  The beach area was really different than anything we've seen before. It has a normal, sandy beach, but there was a much bigger span of sand and natural areas with palm trees and native vegetation mixed in.  It was really cool.  Even in the middle of summer with all the normal crowds, it seems like you'd have no problem finding a place to relax. 

Straight ahead view from the balcony

View to the right

View to the left

View from one of the bedroom side windows

View from the front bedroom window on the street side

Sea oats

We took a trip to the Taco Bus in downtown Tampa on a previous trip a month ago and this time we had to hit up the other location in St Pete.  It was the same and super yummy.

Guy Fieri did a show from there not too long ago
Took this picture from their website also
Pollo Verde tacos, so good

We went to the Clearwater Aquarium, which is pretty similar to Marineland in St Augustine.  It is a very small place with a few dolphins and it is more centered on research.  They do not have any major shows or anything like Sea World.  We did get to see them doing some dolphin enrichment where they do some activities to keep them entertained.  We basically went just to check out Winter the dolphin from Dolphin Tale.  We haven't seen the movie yet, but it's a big deal there.  And there were a TON of people there and they're undergoing some major expansion as a result of all the people/$ the publicity is bringing in.  They filmed the movie there and it was all about the dolphin with no tail and they actually built the outdoor dolphin pool for the movie and they left it there for their use.  It will be cool to see the movie and see the dolphin and the areas we were at in the film.

Winter is the one resting on the platform, they were actually 1/2 sleeping

Another dolphin outside playing


We had planned to also do a dolphin boat excursion to see dolphins in their natural habitat aboard the SEA SCREAMER!  It's the worlds largest speed boat.  It was a VERY fun experience.  Normally it's a 1 hour cruise on out of the inlet to the gulf to find the dolphins, but since this is not staged in any way, you do have to find them first.  We actually spend about 45 minutes in the Gulf just off shore trying to spot them and right when it seemed like we might not find any, the capt. spotted a pod of 4-6 of them.  He then maneuvered to get behind them a bit, told us all to head to the back by the big fin and then drove up beside them and pushed the throttle forward.  We were all watching the wake in the back and then just when you thought nothing was going to happen, they started leaping right out of the water on both sides of the boat!  The wifey hasn't uploaded our actual video yet, but I found a YouTube video from past visitors and it's exactly like this.  SO cool and I'd DEFINITELY recommend doing that if you go there!  And it's really pretty inexpensive.  I think it was $25 each and it was almost a 2 hour boat ride in our case.  And on the way back in the point out a few waterfront homes of the rich and famous, including the home of Hulk Hogan that they filmed much of the reality show Hogan Knows Best in and it's currently for sale for 8.8 million if you are interested. 

We then headed to a place that was highly recommended from a co-worker that used to live in the area, Frenchy's Rockaway Grill.  It's a well known place in the area, but surprisingly enough, in the 5 or so times I've been to the beaches area there, I had never heard of it and didn't know it existed.  Which is a bummer, cause it's a must visit place!  We went to the location in Clearwater Beach, a few blocks north of the pier on the beach side.  They are famous for their Grouper Sandwich and being a huge fan of good Grouper Sandwiches myself, had to try it out.  It did not disappoint!  I had the Jamaican Jerk Grouper, which has some blackened seasoning but is also sweet at the same time and WOW...they are famous for that for a reason.  It is no joke!  I had the Super Grouper, which is slighly larger than normal.  So yummy, we will be sure to go anytime we're in the area.  It is also a very festive, slighly loud party atmosphere and they even have great prices on drinks for happy hour prior to 7pm.  Win/Win!  Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of the food, you'll have to check out their website, I see they also have some webcams too, didn't know that. 

The next day our plan was to head to Honeymoon Island State Park Beach, which was one of Travel Channel's top beaches in 2008 and they have a boat ferry there that takes you over to Caledesi Island, a park/beach only reachable by boat.  We thought that sounded fun and different and it was another excuse to get on another boat and enjoy the beautiful weather.  It was so perfect when we were there.  80 for a high, sunny, no humidity and cooler at night all 3 main days.  Much better than the cold front we have down here this week, we got super lucky!  Caladesi Island had mangroves all around, which are one of the only trees that actually survives/thrives in salt water.  As we were waiting for the ferry to head back, we noticed you could rent kayaks and head right into the mangroves.  We would try that out if we head back over there.  All in all, it was a bit pricey just to head to that park and island.  I think it was 8 to enter the park in the car and then $14 each for the ferry, but if you're going to spend the whole day at the beach and explore the nature trail and want to kayak, I'd say it would definitely be worth it. 

View from the little ferry shuttle boat
View heading out of Caladesi Island

Then later that night we headed to the Conch Republic Grill and Raw Bar, since every time we drove by it there were a bunch o peeps there, so we figured it must be good.  It definitely was!  It was another festive place with a Florida Keys style theme.  We had some fruity drinks, they were two for 1 and they sure were full of rum!  We had a teriyaki chicken appetizer and it was so fresh and hot and good.  I had the blackened grouper, since again, that is my favorite when it's actually grouper and done right and it was excellent once again.  Good time and great place to go!

After the sunset there was a sliver of moon and a bright star

The next day, Sunday morning, we checked out at 10am and then headed on out for our final mission...To get several large pizzas from a hometown favorite place, Mark's pizza, who also has a location in Riverview, just outside of Tampa.  We just ran out of the 5 large that we purchased back on a prior trip on Memorial Day weekend, just after they had opened up.  We talked to the owner a bit and he remembered us and he was telling us how that area could not support their regular 16" large size pizza.  By that he meant that the people there were used to a cheaper pizza, which is a 14" large made my a nasty place called Hungry Howie's.  He said people did not want to pay an extra dollar or two for a larger, much better pizza and their franchise almost went out of business!  :-o  NOOOOO...We could NOT lose our pizza lifeline.  But they made the pizza smaller and dropped the price a bit and he said people responded.  I REALLY hope people continue to support them as we do, I would be crushed if they were no longer there.  We had a coupon, but decided not to use it to give them our full support!  Support Mark's Pizza in Riverview, it's the best pizza outside of Rochester NY!

Here is a post I did over on InfoBarrel highlighting some of the main attractions mentioned above entitled Clearwater Florida - Top Attractions

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