Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Watching Paint Dry

Well, really this post isn't about watching paint dry, but it is about paint!  Taking a note from fellow Blogger Jen S, I thought it would be a good idea to put some before pictures up of some painting we've been planning to do.  We're going to go get the paint tonight (Tues night) and will probably start with the bathroom this coming weekend.

We aren't making any major changes, just neutralizing things a bit more so that we're ready to unload the house when the time comes.  Our spare bathroom is currently a lime green type color (Behr Rejuvenate) and we're going to change that to a pastel yellow.  In there we're also going to remove the elongated dual shower curtain rod and return to a standard single curtain rod.  It's similar to the ones you see in many hotels and it does give you some more room in the shower/tub, but that bathroom is very small and that makes the room seem even smaller.  I'll have a decent amount of patching of holes from the removal of that, so we figured it would be good to paint that room at the same time to freshen it up a bit.

In addition, the room we're using for our treadmill/workout room is a dark green that stands out a bit from all of the other colors we have.  It's not crazy different, but I think if we make that room the same color as the spare bedroom directly across the hall that will help tie everything together. 

The color of our spare bedroom is Behr Ryegrass and that will be the color of our workout room.  We haven't picked out the spare bathroom color yet, we'll do that when we get there.  The wifey says it will be a pastel yellow and she'll know it when she sees it so will have to report back on that one when we're done.

Spare bathroom, currently it's a light green; Behr - Rejuvenate

Elongated shower curtain rod that bows out takes up too much room

Bye bye big curtain rod

Spare bedroom is Behr Ryegrass, the same color that we'll pain the workout room

You can't really tell, but it's a lot darker green than our spare bedroom

Our one kitty Sage likes to hang out behind the treadmill

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Facebook Privacy Settings Now Enabled

I have to say, I'm psyched that the new Facebook privacy settings are now enabled and seem to work quite well and are very easy to use.  The main one I'm interested in personally is being able to limit who can or cannot see your status updates.  It's real easy to use and I just tested it out.  You type in your status and then to the right there is a little pulldown, as shown here:


Grab that, go to custom and then you can type in names of only certain people that you want to see your update.  In that way you can limit specific things to one friend, a few close friends/family, leave it open to all friends, or even make it public.  Instead you can leave your posts open to friends and exclude specific people from the post also.  The exclude option has been there all along, but previously if you put someone in the exclude list, they would never see any of your status updates, past or present.  Now that is just for specific posts, or since your settings are saved, you can limit any future posts from certain people if you'd like. 

If you want to confirm that your recent post is only available to some and/or excluded from others, you can click on the profile tab along the top of your main page and then in the upper right there is a button for 'view as'.  Click on that, type in someones name and you will be able to see your page the way they see it.

All that works real well and it's good to see Google + type settings on a per post basis.  I believe their plan is to make it even more similar by allowing you to group people into categories and then you can limit posts to particular groups or from particular groups.  That could come in useful for example if you want to limit posts to family, exclude them from work folks or vice versa. 

That is all very cool stuff and like I said before, if Google + fades away, as it kinda has already after the initial hype has worn off, at least it has forced Facebook to become better.  Hopefully Google + stays around to add competition and make things even mo better!  How do you like the new settings so far?

Here's a link that shows a few of the other recent privacy changes. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Buffalo Bills Football

Saturday night we got together with the Western NYers in Jax (WNY2Jax) and the Buffalo Bills Backers of Jacksonville to watch the Bills vs Jaguars pre-season game at Wing-It.  It was the first meetup of the Bills Backers this season and it was a great time, especially being pre-season!  Normally we'd only watch around a quarter at best of a pre-season game, but with all the fellow Bills fans there, as well as a good amount of hometown Jags fans, the game felt more like a playoff game at times.

We took a 17-0 lead into the 2nd quarter and the Jaguars were making our starting squad look good.  Right afterwards, the Jaguars started to get into gear and scored 3 touchdowns and a field goal before the end of the first half.  We were behind most of the 2nd half of the game.  With 2:27 left in the game, we managed to score a TD and successfully got the 2 point conversion to tie the game! 

We had no idea if they actually do OT in pre-season or not, but sure enough they do!  There were so many challenges and bad penalty calls that the last few minutes of regulation seemed to last forever.  In OT, Jags won the toss and received and got within long field goal range and missed it!  We got the ball, brought it down within field goal range and won the game!  The Jags fans had most of the cheers for the 2nd half and it was great to win it in OT!  Great end to the evening!

We had a good time and met a few new peeps and the wifey got back in touch with a friend she knew growing up.  She lives here, not too far from where we do, but had not gotten together until the game.

Here's some pictures of the fun below...I am not all that photogenic.  I usually have my eyes half closed or am caught off guard making some sort of odd face.  Despite that, it was a good time and we'll definitely be joining up with the same crew for many more games this season.  It's great to have a place all the way down here in Jacksonville decked out with some Bills swag year 'round.  The owner was previously from Buffalo and I believe it's been the home of the Bills Backers of Jax for 20 years. 

Bills stuff on the wall, there were lots more TVs/screens

I'm the one with the REED jersey on.

THE sound guy in the Blue shirt in front of the stereo
It's funny, he played a little portion a tune from Superman every 1st down 
and the Buffalo Bills Shout song for every touchdown and takes his role seriously!

Wings, Labatts Blue Light and good peeps!

More peeps

More peeps, the WNY2Jax Organizer is 2nd from the right

Go Bills!

Billy the Buffalo...he is a build a bear the guy across the table brought, he's good luck!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Foto Friday

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Facebook Privacy Changes

I'm reading this article posted below on Tuesday night.  I wasn't aware Facebook was changing its settings to be more in line with Google+ as far as being able to specify who can see a status update, similar to the Circles feature and you can even change who can see the post after you already posted it.  In addition, you can now have it set so that you need to approve whether others can see individual photos you are tagged in as well as who can see specific pieces of info like hometown, etc.  Lots of good stuff in there and this is supposed to be active over the coming days.  If Google+ ends up fading away, it was still a huge success in bringing these much needed features to Facebook!  Looking forward to it.

Here is the official post from Facebook

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fountain of Youth - St Augustine Florida

This weekend we went to the Fountain of Youth park attraction in St Augustine.  We've lived here 8 years, but had not stopped in just yet.  Since we're county residents, we get to go for FREE.  If it's free, it's for me.  It's on 15 acres of prime Bayfront property.  We had not heard anything about it prior to going, other than I thought they provide water samples from the original underground spring, which is correct.  

The water has a bit of a sulphur smell/taste and the worker in that room said lots of area residents come to drink the water for it's high mineral content and sulphur is supposed to help joints/arthritis.  Unfortunately, the sample cup wasn't enough to turn back the clock on aging, cure all ailments or do much of anything, but it didn't taste too bad.

There are great views of the Matanzas Bay of St Augustine and the surrounding area from this location.  In addition they have several peacocks that you can feed peanuts.  We also managed to find a cat in the woods, but that's nothing new, we see cats everywhere we go.  They must know we love cats.

At any rate, it was pretty much what we expected.  Decent way to pass the time for a few hours and definitely worth it for being free.  Afterward, we went to dinner at La Pentola, another place we've been meaning to go but hadn't made it to yet and I had blackened (seasoned) chicken in a spicy marinara sauce with penne pasta and it was soooooo good!  The spicy sauce made the whole meal.  Salivating just thinking about it.  I will definitely have to return there to have that again.  The wifey had the pecan crusted flounder special in a Chardonnay sauce and she enjoyed it as well. 

Check out some pictures below....

View of the grounds upon entering

The Fountain

Resident cat

Matanzas Bay Cross


View towards the Bridge of Lions

Spot where they fire the canon

View of bridge over to Vilano Beach

Ponce De Leon statue

Yep, it's a peacock

White peacock

You can feed them peanuts

Two of them nibbling on some peanuts

Entrance to La Pentola

We ate outside on the patio, this pic is from the website, there were other people there

Monday, August 22, 2011

HP Touchpads - Urgent

My previously scheduled breakdown of our visit to the Fountain of Youth has been postponed until Wednesday so that I may bring you this important urgent post instead. 

If you didn't hear over the weekend, HP discontinued their WebOS based Touchpads.  They are basically a scaled down iPad.  They were originally retailing for $499 for a 16GB WiFi version at launch on July 1st and $599 for a 32GB version.  Not very appealing at those levels.

Over the weekend however, retailers started unloading their remaining inventory of the devices for $99 for the 16GB version and $149 for the 32GB version.  Unfortunately I was unaware of that.  Several places began instantly selling out of their supply in 30 minutes or less.

I came into work today and everyone was asking everyone else if they got any over the weekend, no one had.  We began scouring the net for any remaining inventory and the sites we thought still had some were completely overwhelmed.  Best Buy had sold out over the weekend as well as Amazon.  There were 4 sites that were showing stock available this morning, Barnes and Noble, PC Connection, and CDW.  Unfortunately we all came up dry.  I was able to place orders for 2 of the 16GB versions on Barnes and Noble and received an order confirmation email, but an hour later it said the order could not be processed.  I was able to order 1 - 32GB version from and the order went into a processing stage, but went into a backordered status a few hours later.

I really wasn't even interested until everyone else was and then it was the thrill of the challenge to try and get one.  But really, at $99 it's a no brainer.  Even at $149 for the bigger one, it's a great deal.  At $99 I would get two and if I could, I'd probably buy a few more.  Everyone at work would pay for one and if not, you could easily sell them for more online.

So, I thought I'd solicit help from my loyal blog readers.  If you have knowledge of anywhere that has the HP Touchpads available at these prices, PLEASE leave me a comment.  I went back to using just the Blogger comment system if you didn't notice.  If you happen to see one in the store, BUY IT.  If it's the $99 version buy 2!  I will pay for the cost to ship it and throw in $20 each for your efforts!  I'll even dedicate an entire blog post on how great you are for coming through!

The post regarding this was INSANE today, there are now 30,222 comments in the one post on this topic and over 8 million views in the last few days!!  Literally if you went to the last page of the comments and started to read them, looking for new places that might have some for sale, by the time you got to the bottom there were 2-3 more additional pages of posts in minutes.  And just to check and see if things are still that busy now, YES, it still is.  There are now 30,337.  125 new posts in the time it took me to write this paragraph.  Nuts....So needless to say, the second anything is posted there, 1000s of people are trying to hit whatever sites might be posted so you really need to find some sites on your own or be super fast.  

Stay alert, stay positive and let's try and get a bunch of Touchpads!  :o)  Good luck and thanks ahead of time for any assistance!  We can do eeeet!

Update 8/25: I attempted to order from 3 different sites, but no luck so far. :(

St Johns County Florida Resident Discounts

Over the weekend we were looking for something to do and decided we'd go to The Fountain of Youth.  We've been here for 8 years, figured it was about time.  The cool part was it is free for St. Johns County residents.  It is on 15 acres of prime water front property.  Definitely worth going, since it was free!  I will provide more details in tomorrow's post. 

Since it took me a while to find out the info about SJC resident discounts, I thought I'd try and compile a more complete list here.  If you know of more discounts or any that have changed, please let me know and I'll update this page.  Enjoy!

Here are the FREE attractions for SJC residents we know about:

Government House Museum
Spanish Military Hospital Museum
Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum
Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse
Fountain of Youth
The Oldest House is free for St Johns County residents.
The Lightner Museum is free with proof of residence!
Fort Matanzas: free for everyone, and not just St Johns County residents, but if you haven’t made your way south on A1A to check out Fort Matanzas, I know you’ll enjoy it. There’s a free ferry that takes you across the inlet every hour on the half hour, and you’re led by a costumed guide who gives you a tour of the Fort, telling you all about the history and answering all of your questions. I saw a manatee in the water right next to the Fort the last time I went. Dolphins are frequently spotted during the ferry ride as well.

Here are some other big discounts:

1/2 Off Alligator Farm
1/2 Off Victory III Scenic Cruise
Old Town Trolley Tours offers a hometown pass to ride free with any other paying guest (ie, when people come to visit and just HAVE to get on one of those trains, even though you can recite their narration from your time spent walking downtown). Also, you can get the hometown pass to ride free in November all month! So, if you haven’t had relatives bug you to ride and you kind of just want to play around and be a tourist for a day, it won’t cost you anything, and the weather is bound to be gorgeous in November!
Ripley’s Believe it or Not: Local price $5 for St John’s Co. Regular price is 14.99 Adult 7.99 child. Trains are ½ price – $8.50 Adults and $4 for children. 

City of St Augustine Discount Parking Info 

Thanks for the comment below, I added a link to discount parking information.  You can get a Park Now card for a one time fee of $2.50 that provides you with a rate of .50 cents per hour instead of $1.50 per hour for any metered spots.  The fee to park in the garage is $10 on entrance.  You might want to check with a particular venue ahead of time, as they may offer discounted parking passes to paying customers, but you might have to stop there first, as the garage parking is a pay on entry setup now.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Droid X2 / Bionic

There hasn't been a whole lot of hype out there for new phones lately, at least from what I've seen, or not seen actually.  Verizon release the Droid X2, which is the next generation version of my phone, but I didn't see it get a whole lot of fanfare.  It's basically the same phone with a dual core processor and better screen resolution of 960x540.  The regular Droid X has a max resolution of 854x480.  By comparison, the iPhone 4 is 960x640.  No real reason to update to that one, but if you're in the market for an update, that's probably the best Verizon Android phone currently out there as of the date of this post.  There is also the 4G HTC Thunderbolt, but I'd favor Motorola over HTC.  If you're on ATT, the Atrix is probably your best bet. 

On Engadget, the current hype is around the upcoming Droid Bionic.  Over the Droid X2, the Bionic has 1GB of memory vs 384MB, front facing camera and Verizon's 4G LTE network.

I'm not in the market for a new phone, but if I were, it would probably be a toss up between the Bionic and seeing what the nextgen iPhone has to offer.  I still love my Droid X and the ability to 'root' the phone for modifications/customizations.  It does everything I need and then some.  But when the time comes to renew, I'm sure there will be even better choices to pick from, but the problem may be not wanting to upgrade and pay the increased prices all the carriers seem to be migrating to.  From unlimited data at $30 which we currently have, to $30 for 2GB of data.  Currently that wouldn't be a big deal, as I'm usually under 1GB per month.  But, with the faster data on the 4G LTE networks, that may become a problem in the future.  Time will tell. 

Here is some of the info on the Bionic from Engadget:  "Can't wait to get those mitts on a Droid Bionic, but still wondering what lies beneath? Seems as though the Motorola mobile of mystery can't hold its secrets forever, since the specs of the Bionic are now up for perusal on Motorola's developer site. Here's the skinny: it's got a TI OMAP 4430 1GHz dual-core CPU bundled with 1GB RAM (twice the amount in the Droid 3), a 4.3-inch qHD display with 960 x 540 resolution, HDMI 1.4, 8 megapixel rear camera accompanied by a VGA front-facing shooter and 1080p HD video capture, webtop capabilities, and the obvious LTE radio. Unfortunately, the specs confirm the Bionic's lack of GSM / EDGE -- essentially turning it into a fancy PMP when traveling abroad -- and doesn't bother mentioning battery size (or life, for that matter), the most confounding question still lingering aside from the release date. C'mon, Motorola, can we at least get a hint?"

Have you seen any exciting new phones?  Planning to upgrade or waiting for something about to be released?  Let me know!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stock Market Crossroads / ETF Trading

The market is undecided right now as to where it wants to go.  I think there could be another downturn in the near term.  I subscribe to a few sites and took in a free webinar this week and the prevailing sentiment is that we may test recent lows soon.  The two technical trading sites I belong to provide a daily market commentary with chart patterns and analysis and they're all pointing to technical weakness in the market based on current indicators.  In addition, they look back at recent levels of support, where buyers typically come into the market and buy stocks to keep them from falling too much and most support levels are quite a bit away from current levels.

What does that mean to me?  Yesterday I sold the two very small positions I had in my trading account when the market was up at the open and I'm currently in 100% cash looking for stocks/ETFs to pick to make $$ on if they go down.  As of right now, it's wait and see mode.  If you have a trading account, I wouldn't make any huge positive or negative bets at this point.  I'm not making any changes in my retirement accounts.

If we cannot get decidedly above 11,600 on the Dow Jones with decent volume, I may start to dip my feet into some of the inverse ETFs.  Inverse ETFs make you money if whatever they track goes down.  For example, if you think Gold is going to go down, you can buy the symbol DGZ.  If you think the Dow Jones is going to go down, you can buy DOG.  Some of the Inverse ETFs are considered 1x, some 2x and some 3x.  So if the ETF tracks the inverse of the Dow Jones for example, when the Dow Jones goes down 2% DOG (1x) goes UP roughly 2%, DXD (2x) would go up 4% and SDOW (3x) would go up 6%.  There are also 1x, 2x and 3x ETFs called Long/Ultra/Bullish ETFs on the positive side, so if whatever you're tracking goes up 2%, those go up 2%, 4% or 6%.  Pretty cool eh?  Generally speaking though, they're good for short term trades.  On any given day they track what they're supposed to, but over the long term, fees similar to most mutual funds can skew those returns. 

One of the guys on the SpikeTrade site I'm a member of is planning on betting that things will go down via TWM, which is an Inverse (2x) ETF for the Russell 2000.  The Russell 2000 is an index of small cap stocks.  Generally, when the overall market goes up, the small cap Russell 2000 stocks lead the way, the same is true on the downside.  So he will be buying TWM, in hopes that the overall market will go down and if the market goes down 3%, TWM will most likely go down at least 6% if not more.  He's a real smart guy that has been doing this a while and I consider him a bit of a mentor.  We usually interact pretty often via email with two other members with ideas, overall market comments, etc. has been a great site to join since it makes me step up my game when submitting my one pick per week, but even more so, it's gotten me in touch with other traders to bounce ideas off of and learn from, which so far has been a real great experience and just what I needed.  

If you're interested in learning more about ETFs, or have an opinion on where a sector might be headed and would like to know if there is an ETF you could use to trade your idea, let me know.  I really enjoy this stuff and also enjoy helping others where I can!  As always, don't take my posts as financial advice, I just do this for fun.  Thanks and happy trading!

P.S.  When I wrote this last night I wasn't expecting things to go down first thing this morning and continue to go down over 500 points at one point today, otherwise I would have placed my downside bets yesterday.  But am quite glad I'm at least in 100% cash and was able to sell BX for a decent gain yesterday, cause that gain would have been completely wiped out today!  Good to be lucky sometimes. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wacky Wednesday

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grow Every Single Day

I liked this post from the Simple Dollar blog the other day.  I agree with what he said and will strive to grow every single day as well.  In case you didn't catch it I'd like to share it below. 


The one question I ask myself each day as I go to bed is, “Did I grow in some fashion today?” If I can’t answer that question with at least one very strong and clear statement, I view that day as a failure.

What do I mean by that? Let’s break it down into smaller pieces.

First of all, why? This type of self-evaluation provides a constant push forward for me to better myself in some way or another. Each and every day, I’m encouraged to do something to improve.

Why improve? The more well-rounded I am and the stronger my skill set, the more valuable of a person I become and the more avenues of life there are for me to enjoy. If I’m in good physical shape, for example, I’m able to keep up with my kids and participate in some sports. If I’ve learned a new skill, not only can I utilize it at home, I can share it with friends and perhaps be employed with it. If I’m in good spiritual and mental shape, I’m able to handle the challenges that life throws at me. The list goes on and on.

What do I look for? I usually look for improvement in six areas.

Emotional improvement comes from being happy with my life and resolving areas where I do not feel happy with things. If there is something that has been bothering me and bringing down my mood, taking steps to address it is a step toward improving my emotional state.

Mental improvement means that I’m more able to deal with adverse situations that life throws at me. Learning tactics for dealing with stress and applying them is a step in this area, as are tactics for parenting and improving my skill set for dealing with things in everyday life.

Physical improvement comes from simply being physically active. Did I get some exercise today? Did I eat well today (and by eating well, I don’t mean eating a lot, but instead mean eating good things)?

Spiritual improvement means that I came to a better understanding of who I am and my place in the world and the universe. Prayer and meditation usually help here.

Interpersonal improvement comes from building relationships with other people or improving the ones I already have. Did I build a new friendship today? Did I let someone important to me know what they mean to me today? Did I figure out what relationships really matter and which ones do not?

Intellectual improvement is pretty simple to define: did I learn anything new of real value today? I usually feed this through reading, research, or brain-crunching games (like chess).

A great day is one where I improve in some significant way in multiple areas. If I got a lot of exercise, learned a new parenting technique and actually used it, learned how to repair a bathtub drain, and also read a large portion of a thought-provoking book, then today was a successful day.

Not every day needs to be successful, but most of them ought to be. I try very hard to make each day successful in at least one of these areas. Yes, sometimes that means not kicking back and reading a page-turner in the evenings. Sometimes it means having to take a tough stance with my children or having a difficult conversation with my wife or overcoming my introvertedness to build a friendship.

Day after day, week after week, year after year, though, the rewards of doing this become apparent in the friendships you have, the opportunities you have, the internal life you have, and the future you have.

Make each day your masterpiece.


Monday, August 15, 2011

New Bed

I mentioned Friday we were going to look for a new bed for our spare bedroom this weekend and we succeeded on Saturday!  Our initial plan was to look for a full size platform bed and mattress set.  After thinking it over Saturday morning, we really didn't want to spend approx $500 on a bed and another $500 or more on a mattress set, especially since we may end up moving in the next 2-3 years.  We have the regular metal frame for the bed, but needed a way to prevent the cats from going underneath it.  We were thinking maybe plastic storage bins or shoving pillows under there, but then the wifey came up with a good idea.  Get 3 pieces of wood, one for each side and the end and attach them together to form a pseudo 3 sided box around the bottom.  Viola!  Eureka!  Why didn't I think of that!  More on that later...

So that was the plan, save $ avoiding the new bed and just get the mattress set.  We did some looking through ads and online and then set out to do some comparison shopping.  That is very difficult by design, thanks to how the industry sells mattresses to each different company.  You can have essentially the same bed from each manufacturer like Sealy, Simmons, Serta, etc. but the model name is different each place you go.  They do it that way so that you can't compare apples to apples, can't price match, etc.  It's to confuse you.  By the way, never pay retail for a mattress, there's always room to bargain, it's like buying a car.

We first went to Mattress Firm and found one we liked and it was one of the least expensive in there (other than their no name store brand mattresses) and it was 799.  He said he would throw in free delivery, but other than that he said he doesn't have the ability to bargain, he'd have to call his manager.  Way more than we wanted to spend, so we were outa there.

We then went to Haverty's and found a better one for 599 there.  We told him we'd been shopping and asked about free delivery.  He asked where we'd been and if anyone else was offering free delivery and I said yes, Mattress Firm, so he said that was all he needed to know to approve that.  I then said ok, what can you do on price.  He said, I'll save you the trouble of shopping around, I'll knock $60 off along with the free delivery.  I said it was tempting, but to get me to buy it right now I'll need 100 off.  He said I like your style, but dropping the $65 delivery fee and $60 off that was the best he could do.  It was a very fair price, but we wanted to check out another place or two.  We had planned to go back there for that mattress.  

We did lunch and then found another place we weren't aware of called Best Mattresses.  Great find!  We found a bed that we liked equally as well as Haverty's and it was also $599.  We ended up getting the floor model for $100 off, so it was $499 and because it was tax free weekend, they had a special where they paid the tax, so it was another $35 off for that and they also gave free delivery.  So it was $499 out the door and they actually delivered it 2 hours later and took away the old one.  They also threw in a memory foam pillow for patiently waiting.  There were a bunch of peeps in there also buying.  It is a Simmons Lorenz Luxury Firm Queen mattress/box spring set.  It's more on the firm side, but has a bit of cushion on the top as well.  We were very impressed with them and might even replace our master bedroom bed from there if we try out this one and find it helps with our regularly recurring aches and pains.

We were originally thinking full size, but since we had the frame for the queen already and since at most places the queens were either the same as the full sets or more prevalent, we just decided to go that way.  It was a great experience and we ended up coming in 99 cents under budget. 

We went to Home Depot later that night after the bed was delivered to get the 3 pieces of wood to make our pseudo box frame.   We found the perfect pieces, already white and just needed to have them cut to match the sizes we needed and we were good to go. $36 total plus tax.  We're going to do the same with our master bedroom bed. 

At any rate, all is well now and the pseudo box frame turned out perfectly!  Check out some pictures below.  We may attempt to build/add a headboard at some point, but for now we're real happy with the results!

My name is Monkey and I love my new bed!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Crazy Insane Fun!

What a great title right?  Who doesn't want Crazy Insane Fun?!  Well maybe some don't, but how about a crazy insane AMOUNT of fun?!  That's probably better.  It's funny, I'm sitting here trying to come up with something fun to write today and really nothing was coming to me at all.  It seems I don't have a lot of exciting news, nothing major going on, no planned activities for the weekend, etc. so I just clicked in the Title box and said to myself...self, what would you want to read about today?  And that's what my fingers typed in.  So, Crazy Insane Fun is the topic for today and I guess this will be like an improv blog post for today.  Not quite sure where this will take me, but let's do it up!  I might need your help on this one!

Right now we seem to be in a bit of a lull, which goes against our main topic!  The wifey and I both took little long weekend getaways recently and that was certainly fun, more so for me probably.  Upon return I've been doing a little extra after hours work and weekend work at midnight on Saturday to make up for some lost hours, etc.  Plus it's been in the high 90s with 100+ heat index, so most activities need to be indoor for the most part. 

Last weekend we managed to have FUN by going to see Horrible Bosses at a theater down in St Augustine.  A funny movie with a real good cast.  Since we were down there, we did an impromptu visit over to St Augustine beach and decided to stop for a drink or two over on the main drag, St George Street.  Shockingly, it really wasn't oppressively hot.  We went to A1A Aleworks and had a drink there and then walked down to Ann O'Malley's, the bar owned by a former Buffalonian.  We can't go down there without stopping in to say hi and we had a free drink chip from last time we met up with them.  So that was cool, we would have stayed longer, but I had work to do from home at midnight.

This weekend I also have midnight work to do, so it seems like it's restricting us a bit.  Really it isn't, other than we can't go out of town or can't party down too hard on Saturday night.  I shouldn't have any work the next 3 weekends, so we'll be free to do whatever.

On Aug 27th we have our next meetup with the Western NY Jax group at a wing place/bar called Wing-It that was formerly owned by a guy from Buffalo.   That is our home for the Bills Backers of Jax for the upcoming season!  We did not renew the NFL ticket for the first time since 2004, since we'd rather hang out with other peeps and have FUN.  We really enjoyed hanging with the peeps at the Western NY meetup group a few weeks ago and many of them will be present for the games.  It's a preseason game vs the local Jacksonville Jaguars!  That will be fun, definitely looking forward to that!  Yeah, it's just pre-season, but it will be good to get psyched up for the coming season.  The hype/pre-FUN is usually better than the season itself when it comes to the Bills, but MAYBE this will be different?!  Heh...

Other than that, we've been planning some FUN a little further out.  For Thanksgiving we both are taking a half day on the Wednesday before and we're heading back to the Tampa beaches area, specifically the South Beach Resort on Treasure Island.  It's really not a resort per se, it's actually all condos that are rented out, which is what we were looking for.  We'll be there Wed-Sunday and are looking forward to it!  We want to explore that area more at different times of the year, so that will be fun.  We may try out Busch Gardens while we're there, but not quite sure yet.  Will figure it out as it gets closer.

In addition, we'll be making another trip over to Tampa on Oct 22nd for the Buffalo Sabres vs Tampa Bay Lightning game.  We're just waiting on the Bills Backers group to see if they're going to get a group discount for a bunch o peeps to head to the game.  We were going to go anyway, so it would definitely be more fun to do with a big group!

Other than that, I was just informed we may be shopping for a new full size mattress and cheap platform type bed for the spare bedroom.  That mattress is pretty shot and the wifey slept in there the past two nights with her slightly sick kitty Poker (he is all good, he gets that way if he eats one of the other cat's food).  We're both thinking sleeping separate on the week nights isn't a bad idea.  I usually go to bed later than her and roll over a lot and the kitties don't seem to bother/wake her up at 5am in the other room, so we might try that out.  We've both been much more awake so maybe we'll do that more often on weeknights.  Mattresses seem to wear out after 5-8 years no matter how much we've spent on them and this is for the guest bedroom, so we'll be trying for the best deal, nothing fancy.  We'll be going from Queen to Full, since it will fit the room better and where ever we move to next we're thinking it will be a smaller space.  So that's kinda fun perhaps. 

Well, I'm not so sure this post lived up to the CRAZY INSANE FUN title, but I enjoyed it.  What upcoming fun do you have planned?  Any suggestions for a decent/cheap full mattress and platform bed?  The platform bed needs to be one that a cat cannot get underneath. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pictures of the Day

Dog shaking off water!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


As I mentioned in a prior post I am a believer in the Law of Attraction and I receive weekly emails from The Secret website and the author also makes a post every few days on The Secret Facebook page.  The main gist of it is that 'like attracts like'.  If you are positive and grateful, positive and good things will come your way.  The opposite is also true.  The emails and Facebook posts are always good advice and they remind you to stay on track and stay positive.  One of those emails in the last few weeks said the following:

From The Secret Daily Teachings
Is this a thought that you hold?
"I have no money to give, but when I have money then I will give." If it is, you will never have money. The fastest way to attract anything is to give it to another, so if it is money you want to attract, then give it. You can give $10 or $5 or $1. It doesn't matter what the amount is, just give it. It doesn't matter how much and it doesn't matter where you give it, just give!

Update: Today's email was also about giving, freaky!

From The Secret Daily Teachings
The fastest way to receive is to give, because giving starts the reciprocal action of receiving. We all receive according to how much we give. Give the best of you everywhere you go. Give a smile. Give thanks. Give kindness. Give love.
Your giving should be a giving without expectation of return - a giving for the sheer joy of it.

The first email reminded me, we've been slacking in our giving lately.  I've been wanting the bank account to build up and of course it never gets as high as you'd like it to, so I have been putting off the giving as a result, but have also been wanting to give as well.  So that one email kicked it back into gear for me.  I've seen on the nightly news lately of the famine in Eastern Africa and remembered I wanted to give to that cause.  So I gave to two causes currently supporting that effort.  One was UNICEF and the other was The World Food Programme. In addition my wifey and boss boss just sent out a donation page for an upcoming Heart Walk, so will contribute to both of them as well! If you're looking for a place to contribute to, why not start with my wifey's Heart Walk page! She would greatly appreciate it!

Rather than give a large amount such as $50 or $100 to one cause and then wait a while to give again, I decided to give at least $20 each week to whatever cause we choose.  That way we can spread the love to more places.  Since I made 2 donations for last week and just came across those two for this week, I'm giving the wifey the choice(s) for next week and we'll rotate.  I figure that's a good way to keep giving as a priority and fresh in our mind each week!  Have you setup a fun way to give that not only helps a good cause but makes it something you look forward to as well?    Let me know!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monetizing Your Blog

My original goal when creating this blog wasn't to try and generate a bunch of cash.  It was mostly that I wanted to do something with this domain name that I have owned since 2003.  When I purchased the domain name I had just finished reading the Rich Dad Poor Dad book and felt motivated to do something to try and generate passive income.  I really liked the book and it was ground breaking stuff to me at the time.  Initially I created a basic single web page with links to the Rich Dad books and website in hopes people would click through my links and buy his products.  Needless to say, that didn't work out real well.

I didn't do anything to attempt to drive traffic to my site or promote the site in any way, I was just hoping people would come across my site somehow or type in the URL directly and then decide to buy something.  No such luck.  So it just kinda sat there for a few years.  After getting excited about the Dave Ramsey plan and being debt free and wanting to share financial knowledge and general info with others, I thought it'd be a great idea to turn the site into a blog and see if it was something I wanted to keep up with after a month or so.

At times it is very difficult to come up with something new and exciting to post, but for the most part I enjoy blogging.  It keeps my mind active, lots of times I'm learning a thing or two myself and I enjoy sharing information with others in hopes that you can gain something as well!  Whether it be humor, advice, life lessons, etc.

At the same time, I'm always looking for new ways to try and bring in more $, so why not try and monetize my blog at the same time!  In the Blogger dashboard, which is the webpage Google provides to update your blog, there is a tab along the top entitled 'Monetize'.  It's pretty much like clicking the easy button.  I went through the few short steps back in June and set it and forgot it.  There is also a tab on the Monetize page to enable Adsense for feeds and a tab to link with an Amazon Associates account.  I enabled Adsense and the Amazon Associates part in June and just clicked to enable Adsense for feeds right now. 

I clicked on my Adsense account a few days ago and much to my surprise I had a balance!  As of today it's $6.42.  Not a fortune, but enough for a few items off the McDonald's value menu. So the more traffic you bring, the more eyes you have and the more page views and potential click-throughs you get, bringing in more $.  I thought that was pretty cool.  I thought maybe after a few months I'd get a click here or there, but wasn't expecting anything immediate.

So if you have a Blogger blog, I'd recommend clicking that Monetize tab and create an Adsense account and just see what happens.  If you have a non-Blogger blog, I assume there is an equally easy way to do the same.  I ended up taking the defaults I believe, which was to have an ad at the bottom of each post and one in the upper right.  Hopefully they're not too obtrusive or annoying and hopefully you'll actually see one or two you're interested in checking out.  If you do see ads that are overly annoying, let me know as I can block them as well.  Good luck and happy monetizing!  I'm very interested to know your results and any suggestions on how to increase revenue without alienating your readers.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stock Market Recap

The last few weeks have been rough for the stock market and anyone closely watching them!  If you were one of them like me, perhaps you just need to CALM DOWN and GET AHOLD OF YOURSELF!

Haha....That's one of my favorite parts of one of my favorite movies Airplane and it may be just what we need to get a grip!  On July 21 the Dow Jones, which is one of the main numbers the news always refers to, was at 12,724.  Thursday of last week it hit 11,383 for a loss of over 1300 points or 10.5%.  It was down over 500 points on Thursday alone! Generally speaking, your 401k/Roth accounts probably lost somewhere around that same 10% amount during that time.  Unfortunately, the market is now at levels lower than where we started the year.  In other words, if you started out with $10,000 in an account on January 1st, you probably have less $ in there than when you started.  The negativity and fear in the market has gotten to extreme levels over the last few weeks as well.

Unfortunately, the majority of the recent downturn is attributed to all of the stuff going on overseas.  Basically, we had our financial crisis back in March of 2009, where the market lost half it's value in a very short period of time.  Now the same type of situation is going on in Europe.  Countries like Greece, Spain and now Italy are having financial troubles, requiring intervention from the European Central Bank.  Luckily, we survived the failure of Lehman Brothers, all the bailouts, etc. and our markets made a nice recovery since then. Now we have to experience some of their pain, since everything these days is global.  Our multinational companies depend on demand overseas and vice versa.

The whole bickering back and forth in Congress with regards to raising the debt ceiling and attempting to get our financial house in order certainly didn't help and definitely contributed to some of the decline leading up to the August 2nd deadline.  They did succeed at raising the debt ceiling at the last second, however around 8pm on Friday the S&P rating agency downgraded the credit rating of the US government for the first time, from the top rating of AAA to AA+, one notch lower.  That is due in part to the apparent lack of ability of the government to resolve the debt ceiling issue quicker as well as not having a good enough plan to cut our debt more over the long term.  The government says that downgrade is unwarranted and that the rating agency numbers are flawed, but the S&P stands by their calculations.   

Prior to that downgrade late Friday, it appeared the market had stabilized slightly and closed up a bit, even though there was a 400 point swing from the high to the low.  Now that the downgrade hit, it's unclear where we're heading, but we will probably be in for additional volatility for a while longer.  Most likely we'll see some additional downside.

So what does all that mean to you and me?  For me, in my personal trading account I've been very lucky in that I was in 98% cash prior to the recent downturn.  I did not want to be in any trades just prior to my trip to visit friends and family in NY state, since I would have been tempted to watch the market the majority of the time.  I've been tempted to get back in on a lot of stocks since they're "on-sale" so to speak, many at 20% off regular prices, but haven't jumped back in just yet.  If you have a trading account, I'd recommend the same.  No need to catch a falling knife or be a hero, better to wait it out and see when things stabilize.  However, now is the time to get your shopping list of stocks that you want to buy and be ready to dip your toes in over the coming days and weeks.

Jim Cramer recommends that IF you are looking for stocks to buy right now, you should purchase large cap stocks that pay a high dividend (3.5% or higher) and purchase 1/4 of your position at a time.  Verizon is one example and it pays a 5.5% dividend.  That means that if you buy Verizon and hold it for an entire year, over that time you'd earn 5.5% interest on your $.  That's regardless of any potential gain or loss on the stock itself, certainly beats the .1% you might be getting in a savings account.  High dividend stocks tend to be more stable in downturns.  You would purchase 1/4 sometime this week for example and then if it happens to go down another 5-10%, you could purchase another 1/4, etc. averaging down as it gets lower, since it's very difficult if not impossible to pick the absolute bottom.  Not bad advice overall.  

As far as 401k/Roth IRA accounts go, I'd recommend staying the course.  Keep up with your regular contributions and the same allocations and just realize you're averaging in at lower prices and things should recover similar to how they did after the March 2009 decline and subsequent rally.  If we panic and start to pull $ out of mutual funds and retirement accounts, it will make the problem worse and we'll drop even more. Things usually seem worst just when the market is about to make a recovery.  Right now we're at extremely depressed levels as far as technical indicators go, very similar to March of 2009.  And we're in much better shape as a nation.  We're no longer on the brink of economic failure like we were then, we are experiencing growth, just at a slower pace than we initially thought and we have experienced a decrease in unemployment, however not nearly at the rate expected. So, unless things make a drastic turn for the worse, we should start to even out soon.

Should be another interesting week and it's already shaping up to be a very ugly day.  Gold is now over $1700 an ounce and Asian markets were down over 2%.  Our markets pre-open are also down over 2%.  If all else fails, check out this picture of two of our kitties snuggling up head to head this morning.  Not sure you can get any more calming than that!  :o)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Privacy Policy

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Trip to Rochester NY - Finale

I'll round out the week with the beginning and end of my trip up to Rochester and Oswego NY last weekend.  I arrived in the airport, excited to see THE BLUE ZONE...It put a smile on my face to see Labatts Blue.  I then went right from the airport over to Marketplace Mall where a Rochester franchise of the Original Anchor Bar was opened.  The Anchor Bar in Buffalo is the home of the original Buffalo chicken wing as you know them today.  The wings weren't bad, but it's not like the Buffalo location.  And my wifey says Duff's wings are the best wings in Buffalo anyway, so no major loss.  I got a shirt there, but left it at my parent's house by mistake, hopefully my mom will send it soon.  Hint hint.

The plan was to meet my Dad/Gma/Mom at the parent's house for Pizza/wings, but I surprised my Grandma by stopping over there first and took a quick picture of her cat Groucho while I was there.  Such a good kitty, but he likes to playfully bite after a bit of petting.  We then went over to the parent's house for Pontillos pizza and Anchor Bar wings.  Pontillo's is soooo good.  It's totally the sweet sauce that I love so much.  Mmmmm...The Mark's pizza we have in the freezer is also very good, but just not Pontillo's.  I'm grateful to have the Mark's, since it's better than anything we have here.

 My parent's cat Levi was out and about most of the time I was there, which was cool.  When a lot of people are around for a party or whatever he hides and he also doesn't like storms and hides in the basement.  My mom had her whole side of the family over Thursday night when I was there and it was good to see everyone!  We hung out outside and she used the same 'Happy Graduation' table cloth she used when my sisters were last up there, so had to include a picture of that. I also got a good picture of the neighbor's dog.  Such a dear, as my sister Jen would say. 

I also have a picture with the windows open, which is something that rarely happens down here.  I closed them at night though, didn't want to be woken up by birds and I have terrible allergies in the spring/early summer up there, so didn't want to take any chances.  Luckily didn't experience any allergy issues, so all was well.  I also snapped several pictures of trips to Wegman's grocery store and their sign referring to soda as pop.  I don't call it pop any more, but it was funny to see it all official on the sign!

Friday I went up to Oswego for Harborfest, as you know if you've followed along this week, and then I headed back to Rochester on Sunday and stopped at my Gma's on the way to the airport and then I was heading back home. 

Hope you enjoyed the play by play this week as much as I enjoyed the time with family, friends and fun!

BlueZone bar at the airport

Rochester Anchor Bar at Marketplace Mall


Yummy good...

Genny Light and Pontillo's pizza...good stuff


Me enjoying hanging outside

Windows open...nice change of pace


Genny Light, Genny Regular and Creme Ale...Yuck on the last two


Holt Road Wegman's!

Eastway Wegman's!

Good doggy, I think her name was Rose or Rosey

All setup for the family get together

Congratulation graduate!  Probably from 1995-ish

Groucho was excited and would jump up and smack my dad in the head, funny!

My Gma, unaware I was snapping a pic


The clouds looked real cool on landing into ATL


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