Monday, February 28, 2011

Travel Reviews Bogus?

My wife recorded a portion of the Today show last Thursday regarding the business of deception in the travel/entertainment industry when it comes to all those review sites. The basic jist of it was that a lot of hotels, restaurants/bars, etc. are in the business of either hyping up their own businesses or posting damaging reviews on those of competitors businesses. There are even entire companies who you can hire to do the dirty work for you. In addition, many sites embellish photos of their own resorts, showing great expansive views when they are not quite as fantastic as claimed.

One example in the pictures below shows a hotel with a beautiful pool and city view when the actual view contains a huge Macy's department store directly next door. Similar to the one below, maybe are just taken at very good angles and not outright forgeries. The Oyster website attempts to expose embellished or photoshopped photos, so it might be worth a quick look to see your destination is featured.

When researching vacation spots/hotels we try to take everything we read with a grain of salt. We read an awful lot of reviews of destinations and resorts and don't put a whole lot of emphasis on one or two particular reviews. We probably read over 100 reviews when all is said and done and check out hundreds and hundreds of different photos, mostly posted by people that have recently been there. Even if 10-20% of the reviews and photos are completely fake, that still gives an overwhelming majority that aren't. Many times we post in forums or email individual people directly asking specific questions and have even met up with a few people we have interacted with prior, so that helps to lend legitimacy to our research.

However, it's not just limited to hotels. The Today show interviewed one guy who openly admitted he made up fake reviews for his own restaurant and would post negative reviews for competitors. So that means all the sites like Urban Spoon, Yelp, etc. have suspect reviews on them as well. They didn't specifically mention it, but the same can pretty much be said for any site that posts reviews such as Amazon.

Many sites attempt to limit fake reviews and many of the companies mentioned on the show responded back defending their site and policies. But what would you expect, that's how they make $$. At any rate, it doesn't change much, just something to be aware of.

Have you ever relied on information from review or review site, only to feel you were deceived in some way or the reviews were completely false in your opinion? Would love to hear the details.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hockey Puck Pizza!

I've gotten so many requests for this recipe that I had to post it for everyone to enjoy! It's pretty simple really, but be sure you follow the directions exactly or it may not turn out as planned.

First, get some fresh pizza dough from your favorite location, Publix is where mine came from. Spread the dough out on some aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and if you want, spray some of that no stick stuff on there. Then get the pizza sauce, regular spaghetti sauce is fine and that's what I used. Then put on some shredded cheese and your favorite toppings. The bag of dough called for an oven temperature of 380-400 degrees at 25-30 minutes, so I put it on 390 degrees for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes the pizza looked perfect! But wait, you're not done yet. Cut the pizza into 4 small pieces and check to make sure the dough ISN'T cooked all the way through like mine WASN''s time to put the pizza back in the oven for another 10 minutes, but put some foil on top so it won't burn the top.

After 10 minutes, pull it back out again and check to be sure that it still ISN'T cooked all the way through. Still with me? Good....put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes, but this time take the foil off the bottom of the cookie sheet, since maybe that is why it isn't cooking all the way through and while you're at it, forget to put the foil back on top to prevent the top from burning.

After 10 minutes, pull it back out to find that the bottom is now fully cooked and the top sure is nice and golden black as well and the pizza is nice and hard/crispy as well. If you followed the directions fully, you now have 4 small slices of char'd pizza that resemble hockey pucks and would function quite well as actual hockey pucks. I actually made two little pizzas and due to how long it took me, I forced a few chunks down but only out of spite.

If I learned one thing, it's looks can be deceiving. At the 30 minute mark I though I had conquered making homemade pizza, just as well or better than the wifey. Not so much...Good thing she was only coming home late that one night, would hate to see what trouble I would have gotten into making an actual meal! The kitchen is not a place for me to be, thankfully the wifey is an excellent cook! :o)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Johnny Five - Need More Input!

Sometimes I feel like Johnny Five from the old Short Circuit movies....NEED MORE INPUT!

I'm typing this post up Tuesday night. I got to thinking on the treadmill earlier how many different sources of input we get these days. I may not be the norm, but I'm always either online via laptop or phone at home and am in front of my computer all day at work. Honestly, not counting time I'm sleeping, I'm probably NOT online maybe 2 hours a day on weekdays. And if I'm at home, I probably have the TV on while I'm doing something else on the laptop.

When I was on the treadmill, I had my phone sitting on the holder thingy, wireless headphones listening to Fast Money off the DVR in the other room and had the TV in the workout room ready to watch some Burn Notice off the WDTV Live player once the show I was listening to was over. If the little LEDs blinked on the phone indicating a new email or text, I'll check it. Earlier yesterday I exchanged accounts with 3 people at work and started Words With Friends games with them and also started games with my sisters and wife, so 6 in progress games. At one point 2 people had taken their turn while I was jogging, so once I was tired and slowed it down for a few minutes, I took my turn while walking. This was the first time I did something other than just read a quick new email while on the treadmill. Normally I might glance at it, just to see who a new email is from and if it's important.

Some might think that not disconnecting might be stressful, but really that's not the case at all. Everything I'm doing at home is personal. I do not get my work email on my phone or computer unless I specifically go in to check it, which I do not do normally. So really, it's just more a desire to stay connected and 'tapped in'.

When I'm on the laptop at home I always check Google News/CNN/local news and news from my old hometown and places my immediate family live, I also check out several stock market websites, am usually logged in chatting with my sisters/mom if they're online, checking Facebook, emails, blogging, etc. Generally my wife is either doing the same, or busy doing her college course work. I wouldn't say it's relaxing per se, but it is what I enjoy doing.

I do find that if I don't disconnect from the computer by about 9:15-9:30pm them my mind is still very active and I have a hard time going to sleep right away. So since I'm actually typing this post and it's 10:22pm, I might be up for a bit, so better wrap it up.

Do you find that with all the new technology and all the 24/7 news feeds that you're more plugged in these days? Do you enjoy that aspect or feel it's a bad thing? Curious to hear other perspectives and experiences...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Final Mission for Space Shuttle Discovery

The space shuttle Discovery will make it's final mission into space at 4:50pm tomorrow, Thursday, Feb 24th if all goes as planned. This is not the final shuttle mission overall, the Endeavour is scheduled for April 19 and the final mission is Atlantis on June 28th.

If things stay on schedule, I plan to leave work a little early and try and catch it from my driveway. We're about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Titusville, FL where they launch. Depending on the trajectory of the launch, we've seen a real good show a time or two, especially for night launches. We also went to see a launch in the last few years and that was pretty cool too, it's like one big party with people tailgating and everything. Check out some of the pictures from when we went to see one in person below. Godspeed!

Live Space Shuttle Countdown Portal
NASA iPhone/Pad App
Countdown highlights
Launch Week Events
STS-133 Press Kit (11.4 Mb PDF)
STS-133 Mission Summary (778 Kb PDF)
STS-133 Crew
Discovery facts (351 Kb PDF)
Discovery's Career in Photos
Discovery Retrospective
Orbiter Status Updates

Party time!

Lift Off!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Patio Season!

What's my favorite season? Patio Season of course! It's that time of year when it starts warming up, but there's no little no-see-um bugs, no mosquitos, nice breeze with temps in the mid 70s, you can open the windows, no need for heat or A/C....ahhh, paradise! The past few years it seems like Patio Season, or early Spring has been short lived. It's gone from 60s which is a little too chilly for optimum enjoyment right to 80s...But these past few days and the entire coming week is just absolutely perfect here in Northern Florida! High temps in the mid to upper 70s, it was 82 yesterday...I took the nice weather last weekend and trimmed our Crepe Myrtle trees and this weekend I laid down some new lava rocks in the front, trimmed all the bushes and put new pine straw all around in the back and picked up some of those new LED solar landscape lights from Lowes. They had great reviews and were only $3.88 a piece. Sunday I spent a few hours pressure washing the patio and we managed to get a nice tan out in the hammock as well. I'm typing this Sunday pre-vening and we're about to fire up the grill and have Hamburgers, grilled veges and macaroni salad with Ring Pasta from Wegmans...Mmmm! Can't wait! What is your favorite season?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Words With Friends

If you've had an iPhone for a while, you probably already know about Words With Friends. It is very similar to Scrabble and you can play others online, with up to 20 simultaneous games supported. Well, it is now available for Android as well! So now Android and iPhone users can play against each other also.

There is another game called WordFeud on Android that is supposed to be pretty much the same thing, but now that Words With Friends is out and since we never tried WordFeud, we decided to just stick with the new one. It is quite fun, but I think it definitely requires a lot of time and concentration.

A few people from work had a few games going the other day and they just play a turn when they're on lunch or break or something, so those games can go quite a while but it is fun. And I'm thinking it's probably good to stimulate your brain a bit in between playing games like Angry Birds or a new one I grabbed yesterday, Stupid Zombies (ios - android).

If you want to get a game going, my login is dudeman135. I don't guarantee I'll respond quickly all the time, but if you're looking to play a newbie...bring it on!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pawn Addiction

If you're like me, you can't get enough pawn! No not porn, pawn! I'm really into the pawn TV shows and the related shows about salvaging items and reselling them. The 6 shows below are on regular rotation on the DVR, check em out if they sound like something you might like.

Pawn Stars - Show takes place at the now world famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Vegas. This is all about folks coming in to sell items at their pawn shop. It's cool to see all the neat items people bring in and watch the guys wheel and deal to get a good price.

Hardcore Pawn - This one is Pawn Stars meets Jerry Springer and takes place in the heart of downtown Detroit. This is the down and dirty of the pawn business. Lots of arguments and fighting, even amongst the long time owner and his children that also help run the business. This show is a train wreck, but definitely entertaining.

Auction Hunters - This is my favorite of the storage unit shows. They follow 2 guys that go to Storage Unit auctions. Basically when someone no longer pays their storage unit rent, there is a process where they are auctioned off to the highest bidder. Everyone bidding has 5 minutes to look inside ONLY, they cannot go inside or touch anything, so they're pretty much bidding based only on what they think might be inside boxes or what is in plain view. Very cool to see the cool things they find inside and how much they end up selling them for.

Storage Wars - This is the same concept as Auction Hunters, except that they follow 4 main characters/groups. They all have different personalities and are looking for different types of items from the storage units and they compete heavily for the units. A lot of times they'll bid up the prices of the units even if they don't want them, to make the other guys pay more for them.

American Pickers - This show follows two guys that drive around the country 'picking'. Picking is when you drive around rural areas looking for people that have old items sitting around their property that they could turn around and resell for a profit. Basically like going to a garage sale or antique sale, but there isn't an actual official sale going on. They either get a lead on someone wanting to get rid of some items from their life long collection or they just randomly go up and knock on someone's door asking if they might have any items they want to sell.

Hollywood Treasure - This is a show similar to American Pickers, but it's specific to Hollywood movie/show memorabilia. The company works their leads, trying to get folks that have items part with them for their auctions and they get a cut of the proceeds. Very cool to see some of the items they're able to get and how much they are worth. Some items are estimated to be worth millions and usually the owners won't part with those. They recently had the car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on there, the main bag that Mary Poppins used in the movie, the original Santa and Rudolph from the old TV show Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, etc.

Check out the links above to find out what channel they are on and when. I have them setup to record on the DVR, so I'm not really sure the exact channel/time, but I enjoy each of them and hope you will too!

Do you have any shows outside of the regular national networks that you enjoy? Please drop a comment below, I could always add another show or two to the list.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Money Saving Tips

Monthly vs Semi/Annual Payments

In an effort to streamline some our bills and save some money we recently switched over a few of our monthly recurring bills to be paid either annually or semi-annually. If you have the funds available to pay your bill in a lump sum rather than spread out monthly, many companies provide a discount for doing so and the discount can be pretty decent. A 5% discount/rate of return on your money is great these days, considering a traditional savings account currently pays under 1%. If you aren't signed up for bill pay with your bank, definitely do that as well. You'll save the cost of postage and usually when you signup for automatic bill pay or ebills, you'll get some savings there as well.

Many people aren't aware that some places are not only charging you extra for the 'luxury' of monthly payments, but some also tack on an additional 'convenience' charge as well. Most car insurance companies do that. You may pay approx 5% extra to pay monthly vs every 6 months and they usually charge a fee of $1 to $5 per month depending on your method of payment. If you setup an automatic payment to pay your 6 month premium in full you'll usually get the 5% discount and avoid any additional fees. We did that when we recently switched to Geico, we not only saved over $600 a year from what we were paying with Allstate for the same level of coverage, we also saved approx 5% paying our 6 month premium in one payment and incurred no additional fees.

I just logged into my Geico account 2 minutes ago and noticed an additional discount available, which I was unaware of . If you are a Bank Of America customer you can setup your payment to come out of your bank account instead of a credit card and receive an additional discount only available to Bank of America customers. Doing a quick search, it looks like that knocks an additional 3% off your premium. How cool! Thanks blog post, you just saved me some more $.

In addition, Geico also offers discounts if you are members of various professional organizations, honor societies, alumni groups, credit unions, etc. I'm not endorsing Geico, just suggesting you check out your carrier to see if you can get similar discounts that you might be missing out on.

We had been paying our BugOut lawn/termite service monthly and my neighbor mentioned over the weekend that if you switch to a yearly bill you get $25 off each service. So I just set that up as well. Another $50 savings.

Threaten to Cancel

There is a well known policy with many companies that when you threaten to cancel your annual service, that they will usually give you a deep discount to stay. DirecTV and XM Radio are two that I'm very familiar with. Every year our XM radio subscription comes due and you'll get an email when it's about to auto-renew at whatever the current rate is. Every time this happens, I call to tell them that the new rate is too high and I want to cancel. I say that I will only keep it if I can continue my current rate, which is 1/2 price. Has worked every time for the last 3 years for both of our car radios. Normally they recommend grouping your radios into one account and they'll give you regular price for one and 1/2 off for the other one, but why do that when you can keep them separate and get 1/2 off both.

I do a similar thing with the DirecTV NFL ticket every year if I decide to keep it. It will normally auto-renew at full price, but if you call to cancel stating that the price is too high, you can get a wide variety of discounts. This year I ended up getting 20 off a month for 6 months and free NFL mobile, which is normally $99.

If you have a service like that which auto-renews annually, try threatening to cancel. They may call your bluff and cancel, but I can pretty much guarantee that won't happen. In the very rare case where it does, they will be back to offer you incentives to come back.

It's a bit of a game at times, but one I'm willing to pay to save some $! Usually you can find out what deals other people are getting by searching the forums at and I do that right before threatening to cancel XM or NFL Ticket to see what the current best deals are. That way you know what to ask for and might even find better deals than you're used to getting.

Do you have any tips/tricks on how to save $ with any of your current services? Please share so that myself and others can benefit also!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Today's picture page is from the grocery store phenomenon known as WEGMANS! If you've never been, you don't know what you're missing. It's more of a destination than a store. Wegmans is a grocery store chain that started out in NY state and expanded to surrounding states in the last few years. Other than family and friends, the two main things we miss from Rochester NY are Pontillo's pizza and Wegmans! They have a tons of pre-made food stations, huge bulk food section and even a second floor seating area for dining in! Enjoy some pictures from our Labor Day trip to the flagship location in Pittsford NY...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Awesome Speakers! Cyber Acoustics CA-3602

First off, it's very rare that a product lives up to the hype of over 100 positive reviews and on top of that costs only $37.54 and ships free with no tax! This is one of those times when the hype matches real life and I just had to say Wow! If you're in the market for a very inexpensive speaker system for your computer/laptop or even your phone, MP3 player or anything with a headphone jack, you gotta check out the Cyber Acoustics CA-3602.

I haven't had speakers for a computer or portable device in a while, normally I either just use the laptop speakers or headphones, but when I saw all the great reviews for this system, very cheap price and free shipping I had to try it out. The sound quality is really amazing. I cranked a bunch of different music, from Metallica, to Styx, to Kid Rock and Vanilla Ice and it handled all of them perfectly with no distortion and really good bass.

The system has separate volume and bass control and the bonus is that it also has an Auxiliary input where you can plug in an MP3 player, your cell phone or anything else with a regular headphone jack. I plugged my phone up over the weekend and put Pandora on while we did some Spring cleaning and could hear it from anywhere in the house and it sounded great!

I came close to purchasing a similar setup a few months ago, but it was over $100 and am so glad I didn't. This one sounds way better for a 3rd of the price. If you're in the market for some really small speakers that sound really good, check em out. They'd even be good to bring outside for a patio party temporarily.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day

Let me tell ya why my wifey Marla is so great, in no particular order..She gets up early every morning to feed our 4 kitties and then goes back to bed, does all the cooking and is good at it, goes grocery/clothing shopping without me, cleans the sheets/towels regularly, makes me my favorite foods upon request, generally places very little on the honey-do list, doesn't have a problem with hanging out with the boys time, takes care of me when I'm sick, is very supportive of whatever ideas I come up with and that's just the tip of the iceberg!

To top it off she picked out an inexpensive necklace and bead and said here, go ahead and pick another bead and that's your gift to me! I also had her pick out the flowers I sent to her today! I figure why not have her actually enjoy what she gets! How cool is that? I added the chocolates to the order, but she definitely makes it easy. She is obviously not high maintenance, heck we got married on the beach and she let me wear shorts!

She has been trying to decide what she wants to do with her life as far as having a career vs just having a job. She recently decided that she wants to pursue her bachelors degree in Health Services Administration, which is the field she's working in now. She's working diligently towards her goal and doing a great job! I'm very proud of her!

When it comes to sharing the load, we do a pretty good job. We have our own individual tasks that one of us usually does better than the other, but when it comes to the major tasks or obstacles, we take them on as a team.

I'm looking forward to a lifetime of great things to come!

Love you sweetie, Happy Valentines Day!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Excercise and Giving a Win - Win Situation

I mentioned in my first blog post that we are following the baby steps of the Dave Ramsey plan and in a later post we had gotten down to step 7, which is to build wealth and GIVE!

Towards the end of last year I had come up with a plan to try and motivate my wife and I to do more cardio. I came up with a cash for miles plan. For every mile we do walking/jogging, we'd get $2.50. Around that same time we were approaching baby step 7 and thinking more about giving, with it being around the holiday season and I came up with a plan to up that amount to $3 per mile, with half to use on yourself and the other half to donate.

That sounded like a much better idea to me, not only were we helping ourselves physically by doing more exercise, but the more you did the more you could help others as well. As I said then, I figured that generally since we usually don't purchase all that much stuff for ourselves and when we do we talk it over and order it up, that probably the whole $3 per mile would most likely go towards whatever cause we wanted to contribute to individually.

I'm at about a 14 minute per mile pace right now with a 1 minute warm up, so instead of walking/jogging we could instead do weights or some other workout at roughly a $3/15 min rate. Generally I shoot for a minimum of 2 miles or 30 minutes per workout, which is right around 300 calories and $6 for the cause.

I use Runkeeper to track my miles whether I use it on the phone to GPS track how far I go on outdoor walks or just enter the info online for inside stuff. It works great and you can generate a quick report with the click of a button and all for free.

I racked up 34.8 miles in Dec and January and came across a cause one night just after finishing up a late night blog post. It was called Jhaysonn's Cure and the story was featured on our local news with a special 30 minute report. I didn't catch the news story, but read the related article. It was about Jhaysonn Pathak who has a rare form of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Shortly after graduating college and going to South Korea to pursue a career as an English teacher, he was diagnosed. He has undergone 22 grueling cancer treatments and his immune system is so fried from the chemo, that he's down to his last possible chemo treatment and the cancer has not gone away. His only hope now is a stem cell transplant.

Luckily his brother is a perfect match and they were all set to have the procedure done at Shands Gainesville hospital and then..."A week before Christmas, they hear from Medicaid...(saying) you don't have enough in-patient days to do the transplant. They are saying there are only 30 days a year available through Medicaid." Could you imagine? You're down to the only possible treatment currently available to try and save your life after undergoing 22 terribly draining chemo treatments, only to be denied due to running out of in-patient days?!

In the end, the family got some welcome news that a FL State Senator John Thrasher, that was a cancer survivor himself was able to pull some strings and get Medicaid to approve the additional in-patient days necessary and Jhaysson is currently undergoing stem cell replacement therapy this week, so send positive thoughts his way!

Their main goal is helping their son right now, but the family's secondary goal is to raise awareness of this issue, where we have some of the best medical technology/treatment centers in the world and people either are denied due to issues such as this, not having the insurance/funds available to receive the treatment you need, etc. The senator is also working to get Medicaid to help out 10 other folks waiting to get the same treatment at the same hospital. The family is advocating to get the health care system changed, so things like this do not have to be so difficult for others. They were taking donations to help not only with the medical costs above and beyond what insurance was providing for their son, but also any funds above and beyond would go to the 10 other patients awaiting treatment as well.

I decided to donate $100, of the $104.40 that I had earn so far, to their cause. It felt good to help out in a small way to hopefully alleviate at least a tiny portion of their financial stress and know that others are out there supporting them in this difficult time. I also plan to contact our local leaders via the links they provided to support change so others don't have to have such a difficult time receiving much needed care.

And as soon as I made the donation I wanted to get right back on the treadmill to collect more $ for whatever cause I decide to help out with next. I think it was 1:30 in the morning, so I couldn't do that immediately, but it has motivated me to get on the treadmill even more and I'm about to stop this post now so that I can that right now!

I'm grateful for being exposed to the Dave Ramsey plan by my sisters, not only for my own financial freedom and well being, but also because it's inspired me to be more giving and caring to others in need as well. I'm looking forward to the next cause and also looking forward to coming up with more unique and fun ways to give and make a difference in the lives of others. This is just one small way we've come up with to increase our giving beyond what we normally do throughout the year.

What ways do you utilize to inspire yourself to give more, whether it be your time, money or both?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

iPads and Tablets and Rumors, Oh My!

Recent rumors claim the iPad 2 is currently in production and most of the posts I've seen estimate that the device will hit the market sometime in the second quarter of this year, possibly as early as April. I saw more rumors this afternoon of an iPad 3 in the Fall, crazy.

The iPad 2 will supposedly sport a 1.2GHz dual-core Cortex A9 processor, 512MB memory, a dual-mode GSM/CDMA chipset, a built-in SD card slot, a front-facing camera and a rear-facing camera. The metal backing will be similar to the iPod Touch design, offering a smooth, rounded design. It will be thinner and lighter, but have the same screen size of 9.7 inches with 1024x768 resolution and the same price points as the original iPad, between $499 and $829.

In addition to the buzz surrounding the iPad, the Xoom Android based tablet from Motorola got a good amount of press from the CES show also. There is a bit more info out there about the Xoom, since it will be released soon. It has a 2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB memory, 10.1-inch widescreen HD (1280×800) display, is 4G LTE upgradeable, 32GB storage, SD card slot, 1080p HD video support, HDMI output, Adobe Flash Player support, front-facing 2-megapixel camera for video chats over Wi-Fi or 3G/4G LTE and rear-facing 5-megapixel camera that captures video in 720p HD. So it's definitely larger and has more horsepower, but that also comes at a price. The Xoom is targeting the high end, with a price point of $800 with a rumored release date of Feb 24th.

Both are cool little devices, but the question is will you buy one? My initial answer was definitely not, but it's not as solid of a no after gathering the data. I find it hard to shell out that much money for a tablet, when a good laptop costs about the same. Tablets are more portable, have the cool factor and I would probably enjoy using one, but since I work from home 2 days a week and my laptop is my primary PC, replacing it with a tablet would be tough. As a secondary device I can't really justify it either. With our new Droid X phones, they are more than capable secondary devices. They can do just about anything a tablet can do, it's just a bit more difficult to type on due to the smaller screen size.

Tablets are real close to being capable of replacing a laptop, but it wouldn't quite cut it for me as a laptop replacement without having to have/transport some sort of dock or cables to hook up an external monitor, keyboard, additional cost to add a large amount of storage via SD card, etc. But I could see a time probably even this year or next, where purchasing one instead of a laptop could be a reality. Once the price of the first generation devices drops to around 299, I think it would make more sense as a secondary device.

What are your thoughts? Any plans to replace an existing device with one or add it to your collection of gadgets? I'd be very interested to hear if anyone has one and has already replaced an existing PC/laptop and found that it works real well. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Marineland - St Augustine Florida

Today's picture page is from Marineland two weeks ago


This one looks like he's hanging out on the power lines in the distance

Playing some football with the crew


Doing somersaults in the water

View of the beach at Marineland

Flying dolphins

Marineland is nothing like Sea World or anything like that, they specialize in education and hands-on dolphin encounters. We haven't done any of those things, we just go down to say hi every 6 months or so. It's only $8 to stop by and see what's going on and it's only about 10-15 minutes south of downtown Saint Augustine.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Angry Birds SuperBowl Secret Level

In case you missed it, the Rio movie trailer/commercial played during the 4th quarter of the Superbowl contained the embedded code 13-12 shown above. It was kinda hard to see, but my buddy Sean pointed it out and we went back to it a few times before we figured it out. But what the heck does that mean? Turns out it's the level that you have to go to. It's in the Ham 'Em High section. If you don't have those levels, you need to install the latest update from your respective App Market.

Once you get there, do what is shown in the steps on this page and blamo, the secret level is revealed! You know the phrase 'It's all about the journey, not the destination...', well in this case I would agree...The end result isn't all that earth shattering, but it was fun to play along, hope you enjoy the journey as well!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Post Superbowl Blues...

Well, the SuperBowl has come and gone and the Packers pulled out a win. Good game towards the end, but we were hoping for a Steelers win for the sake of our friends Sean and Rachel that were hosting the party. Rachel loves to party plan and loves to party and plan as well. She had a full spread with all the fix'ins and we brought the Steelers cake and an Ice Cream football cake as well. Sean is a big Steelers fan and normally we're not, but last night we were! Bummer it didn't work out....

An estimated 1.5 million employed U.S. adults call in sick to work the day after the Super Bowl. The survey also revealed that another three percent of respondents, or an estimated 4.4 million employees, may arrive late to work the Monday after the Super Bowl. If you made it to work on time today, good job!

If we know that 5.5 million will either call in sick or arrive late and probably 1/2 the people there will either be talking about other things, hungover, groggy or just generally non-productive, why not make Monday a holiday? Or even better yet, make the SuperBowl on a Saturday?

According to this article, the reason why is that most fans get into the Superbowl city Friday evening and have whole day of events and activities on Saturday. If they moved it to Saturday, the hosting city would lose the additional revenue. On the plus side, if the league gets their way and the season is extended 2 weeks, that would place the SuperBowl on the day before Presidents Day! That would be huge, as that is a scheduled day off for many, including myself.

But for now, congratulations on making it through your day whether you called in sick or went to work and here's to a much more productive Tuesday!

Friday, February 4, 2011

DUI While Sleeping

I decided to research this topic after I heard something interesting on a Rochester NY radio show this AM. I was listening to 96.5 WCMF via Tune-In radio on my phone while I was getting ready for work, for something different.

The guy that called in mentioned that one time he had too much to drink at the Turning Stone Casino and went to his car to sleep it off, but first was careful to make sure that he hid his keys more than 20 feet from his vehicle. That wasn't his main story, but it struck me as interesting that he did that to be sure a cop couldn't charge him with a DUI. Apparently that is a rule in NY, or at least he thinks it is.

I have either read online or seen on the news here in FL where people have been charged with a DUI for sleeping in their vehicle and was curious why and what the rules are. Prior to seeing those instances were people were charged, I assumed if someone was sleeping in their car with the car off, it was perfectly acceptable and the right thing to do. Apparently that is not a good idea.

Here's a good description from a DUI attorney website in Orlando: "The problem is that DUI law in the State of Florida allows for a conviction for driving under the influence even though the police officer essentially woke you up from a nap. The officer doesn’t have to prove “driving”, as might be expected. “Driving” Under the Influence is not necessary the correct term. The State need only prove that a citizen has “actual physical control” of the car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs."

This article also goes a bit further: "...This means that if you are sitting in your parked car attempting to sleep off the effects of a night of drinking, even if the car is turned off and in park, you can still be arrested for DUI. Even placing the keys outside the car does not save you from being in Actual Physical Control of the vehicle and charged with DUI. Thus, the often repeated adage that you can put the keys on the roof of the car and sleep it off in the passenger’s seat will not work – you can still be arrested for DUI."

Very interesting. So at least in Florida the old hide the keys trick doesn't fly. There is a bit of subjectivity and another few blurbs mentioned that juries tend to be sympathetic in cases where the person was clearly sleeping it off with evidence they never drove anywhere, but do you really want to be on trial before a jury for any reason?

Apparently you better be sure not to piss off your neighbors either. "In a Minnesota case, a man was drinking at home, then went to listen to the high-end stereo in his new SUV parked outside. Simon said neighbors called police about the noise, and the man ended up with a drunken-driving charge and an impounded vehicle."

And if you think you're safe on a bicycle, think again: "A 'Vehicle' is broadly defined as any device by which a person may be transported upon the road. Based on these broad definitions, a person driving a bicycle would fall within the application of the Florida DUI laws. As a result, if you have been drinking and are not in a position to legally drive a motor vehicle, then you are not in a position to legally drive a bicycle either."

This also goes for motorized bar stools. As a side note, check out the YouTube links below for videos of this one guy 'Lawnmower Steve' I found of the same guy, getting arrested 3 times for drinking, twice on the same riding lawnmower and once on a motorized construction lift! :P There is even a Lawnmower Steve Facebook fan site. He likes to say "I know mah rights!" but apparently he didn't read this blog first....

Lawnmower Steve DUI Arrest 1
Lawnmower Steve DUI Arrest 2 and Taser
Lawnmower Steve DUI Arrest 3 Construction Lift

You learn something new every day eh?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Comic Relief!

With all the negative stories in the world today, who doesn't need a pick me up every now and then?! Here are a few sites that I hope make you laugh! My favorite site that I check pretty often is the Auto Correct site, my wife and I were laughing so hard out loud last night that I'm sure the neighbors heard us and I had tears streaming down my eyes! Enjoy!

Damn You Auto Correct - HUH LARIOUS!

Random Creepy Guy

Um, awkward

Funny or Die

The People of Walmart


Jon Lajoie - This is Taco from the show The League, funny dude!

What are some of your favorite sites that make you LOL?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bridge Walk

This past weekend we had some beautiful weather and took a walk on the bridge between Saint Augustine and Vilano Beach FL. It is actually called the Francis and Mary Usina Bridge. The bridge spans across the Tolomato River, also known as the Intracoastal Waterway.

View of the bridge from the beginning...

View of the yacht from the start of the bridge

View of same yacht and marina from higher up, it's low tide

View down the Intracoastal Waterway from the top

View at the top, facing the ocean/beach...almost beach weather!

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