More Posts!

Ok, now I feel like I’m just cheating… I added some connections to my site for RunKeeper, the program I use when I walk.  Each walk I post on RunKeeper will now add a blog entry with my walk details to my site.  I’ll probably stop posting them to Facebook soon, and just keep them here, where they’re easier for me to see.  Yes, they’re all also available in the RunKeeper app, which is easy as well, but my site needed more activity, and Facebook sure doesn’t.  I figure I’m “cheating” a little, with “fake posts”, but it’s something.  The part I like the most though, is the “RunKeeper Records” box I added to the right sidebar.  It shows all my stats for the current week and month in a nutshell.  Now I just have to make sure I add REAL posts, like this one, regularly, so my site’s front page doesn’t just end up being dozens of RunKeeper entries and nothing else.  Yeah, good luck with that, Jim.

Ramblings

Socks, our Chihuahua, recently had his 14th birthday.  I wrote up a paragraph, but never posted it anywhere after I got busy and never completed a little photo album I planned to put together with photos from him over the years.  Here’s what the little posting said though:

Happy Birthday, Socks!! I know you don’t have a Facebook page, and can’t even read for that matter, but you still have birthdays and we’re celebrating! You’re officially 14 years old today, which makes you 98 dog-years old! Dayum! You still get out there like a trooper and walk with me, now more than ever, and you seem to love it–right up until you decide “Ok, that’s enough!” and plot down under a tree while we’re still out walking and refuse to go any further. I usually end up carrying you the rest of the way home or back to the car, but that’s ok, you’re light, so it gives me a little weight-lifting exercise!  You’re a bit slower today than you were back in the “Peanut Days”, but you’re hangin’ in there.

There was one more sentence about the photo album, which I removed because I never got around to finishing the album.  Oh well.  So many things drop to the wayside like that, I’m noticing.  It seems to happen more and more as I get older.  I must be slowing down.  There’s actually about 8 different articles in my “Things to post on my website” that I never finished, including this year’s 9/11 posting.  Bad, Jim, bad.  And so it goes.

So, if you don’t mind, I’m just going to start posting little things here, complete or not, just to to get them out.  I miss writing, actually, so maybe this will help.  If I could write while walking on the treadmill, now THEN you’d see some postings!  Maybe I’ll try using voice-to-text and just talk while i walk on the treadmill next time and see how it works out.

9/11: I watched a lot of History channel’s specials, this this year marked the 15th anniversary of 9/11.  Not all at once though, that would have been way too depressing.  I recorded most of them and watched them throughout that week.  I still have 1 or 2 more I’m still watching, a little at a time.  For some reason I still find much of it very interesting.  Very sad, but interesting.  New information is always being brought up, new stories from new survivors I hadn’t heard of, or stories of more victims I hadn’t heard before, how they tried to completely evacuate New York and other major landmarks, bring down every single aircraft in the country that day… just mind-boggling.

My Health: According to my doctor, I’m doing much better.  This week I had an ear issue–woke up the other day with my left ear plugged and had ringing in my ears very loud and annoying.  Couldn’t think straight for a couple days.  Struggled at work that day, then took the next day off to see the doctor.  The first evening Sandy helped me try to flush out the ear with a kit from the pharmacy.  It seemed to help a little, but the ear was still half plugged and the constant ringing continued.  My doctor’s nurses used whatever magical pump thing they had for this and that managed to clear up the rest.  I guess it was just wax buildup. ick.  But all clear now, and the ringing was completely gone when I woke up this morning.  So nice to be able to hear again!

I also found out that I lost another 5 lbs at the Dr. office…no, that wasn’t all the wax they removed from my ear!  They weigh me every time I come in, and my last visit was a month ago.  I’m down 5 pounds since then, which is great.  I try not to weigh myself too often because this gets quite frustrating due to fluctuations.  So hopefully this downward trend will continue.  I’m maintaining my walking at 2 miles or more per day, which is working out great.  I have already had to add new holes to my belts several times just to keep my pants from falling down!

Family: Kevin’s learning to drive now, and has also started college.  He’s also still working at the Naval base, so he’s got his plate pretty full, and we’re very proud of him.  Sandy continues to work hard for Society’s Assets doing home care, and is in pain a lot due to her own medical issues, but she’s hanging in there.

 

July? What’s that??

Holy crap, July just flew by! What the heck was that?! I’ll sum things up: I called Karen, my sister who lives in Florida, just to catch up. Loretta asked Sandy to have me call her. She was very shocked, but said it made her day. And it was, in fact, her birthday that day! Of all the days to call, I unknowingly chose her birthday. That was interesting. After our conversation, I started writing a long letter to her, catching her up on me, my family and old memories. That took awhile to write, but I got it done and even included dozens of old photos, culled from several of my dad’s old photo collections, which I had scanned and posted online. Unfortunately, Karen doesn’t have Internet or a computer, so I had to go “old school” and copy & paste into my Evernote letter. It worked out well, but barely fit into a business envelope! I added an extra stamp just to be sure it wouldn’t return. We’ll see if she likes it. Using Google Street View, I was even able to view the little house she lives in with her friend.

Kevin and I spent a day at the Milwaukee Art Museum in July. That was very fun, and we had a good time. It’s great how they change the exhibits around frequently so there’s always something new to see. Chester and I went to Oshkosh for an Ingress Resistance BBQ as well. Since it was a two hour drive, we made a day of it, leaving Kenosha in the morning and spending the afternoon and evening hacking all the uniques we could find and topping it off with some great food and great people! Ah, smurfs…

I’ve been walking my ass off. Literally. I’ve been taking 2 walks a day, most days, walking a minimum of 1 mile each time, in an effort to lose weight. I guess, since I refuse to totally give up snacking and the food I love, it’s a very slow process, but I’m seeing progress. I really don’t think I could have done it this long without the help of Ingress and Runtastic. Ingress has given me a reason to walk, as often as possible, in an effort to support our lil blue worldwide “smurf” team in an effort to save the world from the evil toads (the green team). I walk to as many portals as I can these days, keeping Runtastic running at the same time, which tracks my walks and provides tons of data and statistics as well as medals, very much like Ingress does. The combination of both apps on my phone has motivated me quite a bit.

Socks is now addicted to walking as well. When I walk in the evenings or on weekends, he’s with me. He needs to lose weight as well, according to the vet, so we’re both working on it. At home now, each evening around the same time, he automatically starts getting excited. On days I’m not going for an evening walk, I have to calm him down and try to get him to understand it’s not going to happen this time. He eventually just gives up, but it’s frustrating to watch him work himself into a frenzy when nothing is going to happen. Seems like such a let-down. He never seems to be angry about not going though, maybe just a little disappointed.

Work has been pretty shaky. We’ve gone to 4-day work weeks twice already this year, each time lasting several weeks. I made up the extra day by using vacation time, but now I’m left without days for an actual vacation. Kinda depressing. On the other hand, I’m looking forward to the big, double, Amazon warehouse they’re building in Kenosha! They’ll be starting to take applications very soon I hear, so who knows.

Teeth

Doggie_DenturesI had some dental work done this week, and I remembered Socks losing a tooth not too long ago, so I looked for the post. Sure enough, I found this.  After re-reading it, I just had to add a photo to accompany it.  I get a kick out of those weird facial-feature animal-swap photos all over the web. That makes his smile look much better than mine is now, that’s for sure!

Kenosha Parvo Outbreak

Neighborhood walk

There’s been a Parvovirus outbreak in Kenosha recently – most notably in the Lincoln Park area – so I’ve been keeping the dog home most days.  Lincoln Park WAS one of the parks I liked to walk occasionally, so that sucks.  Just another reason to avoid Ingress park portals and stay home.  So today, after denying Socks a good walk for some time, I decided to just walk the neighborhood with him.  I tried to squeeze in a full mile, but my bluetooth headset kept slipped off my head because it got pretty wet and slippery.  It didn’t rain, it’s just really humid today (Accuweather says 80% humidity).  Reminds me of David Letterman’s classic line: “It’s not the HEAT, it’s the STUPIDITY!”

Now I’m going to back to continue my Sopranos marathon… I’m just starting season 3–Meadow’s in college, Little Tony just starting getting his dad’s panic attacks, Big Tony is still trying to hide his money safely (now out in the shed and in each of his wild bird feed bags), and Uncle Junior doesn’t have the money for both his cancer treatment and his legal fight against the feds.

Happy Holidaze

The season is getting pretty busy.  Yesterday we finished up cleaning and emptying the final bit of stuff left at the old house, and we’re finally fully out of it.  The bank is finally making some headway, and we’re moving forward.  Today Sandy and I did some shopping during the Packers/Bears game.  It was the perfect time for it, since all of the area’s football fans were busy watching the game.  No lines, no waiting.  Afterward, Kevin, Socks and I took a walk with a twist: Matt recommended an app called “Zombies, Run!“, so we tried it out.  You play it like an audiobook while you walk and/or run, and the story unfolds as you progress.  You also collect items during your walk, and when you get back home, in the game you “return to base” and apply the items to your compound and level up the various sections of it, like the hospital, your housing, and the armory.

It’s a neat game, and encourages you to walk more.  In fact, I think today’s walk was one of my longest in  awhile at just over 1.5 miles.  At one point, walking on the sidewalk next to Towerline Park, Kevin picked up 4 different items together, all at once.  I didn’t get them, so I stopped and went back to where he said he picked them up… Sure enough, I also picked up the 4 extra items!  That doesn’t seem to work all of the time, but did work once, so there might just be something to it.  We’ll see as we move forward in the game.  The object is to build up your base to defend against the zombie hordes  I think.  As you walk, a story unfolds as you try to reach different destinations, like a hospital for supplies, etc., and hordes of zombies chase you at various times.  You can hear them coming as they approach, and as you walk for run from them, their distance increases until you lose them again.  It keeps you occupied, like reading a good audiobook.  We’ll see how it works out.

Just one week till Christmas–wow, that’s soon.  I hope everyone has a great holiday season!  Thanks for visiting!

Movie and a walk

See?  That’s the kind of content you’re going to get in my posts if you want me to post more often.  That’s real life right there in that last post.  During today’s walk we had another similar fiasco with a “cling-on”, but I’ll spare you the details this time.  Anyway, Kevin and I just got back from seeing Wreck-It Ralph.  It was pretty cool.  A lot of it was pretty retro, with hundreds of references everywhere to old-school games like Pac-Man, Street Fighter, Asteroids, and many many more.  As with all of the previous Pixar movies, it was so overflowing with constant content, that you’d have to see it two or three times to pick up everything.  So–as expected–Kevin said he wanted to see it again, right after the movie.  There were a lot of pixellated and glitchy things in the movie, and I just hope today’s kids understand that it’s completely intentional.  Then again, there’s always their “old” parents who can explain it to them.  Though this movie wasn’t actually a Pixar-branded movie, John Lasseter was one of its producers.  So, if anything, it’s at least a half-Pixar picture.  And, as usual, it has all all-star cast.  Check out the official website or the IMDB page for all of the details.  As of today, its IMDB rating is 8.3, which is pretty darned good.

Confirmation & Trick or Treat 2012

I have a brilliant teenager. While we were trick-or-treating my phone kept me updated on the football games. I told Kevin, when they were over, that both the Packers and the Bears won today. Kevin says “Sooooo……it was a tie???”

Walked 3.49 miles trick-or-treating.  I thought I’d be exhausted, but I’m fine.  Socks and Kevin, on the other hand, are beat.  Kevin was half frozen, with red ears and nose, and Socks was shivering pretty bad too.  Sandy picked us up at the 2-hour mark after we had a good Southbound walk, and dropped us at the house again so we could do the neighborhood North of the house.  Not too many lights on to the North though–we got our largest haul from the area South.  Shockingly, there was only one light on Christmas Lane!  I thought that block would be the busiest.  I guess when you go all-out on one particular holiday a year, the rest of them don’t mean anything to you.  Luckily, I didn’t get paged at all while we were trick-or-treating, so it all turned out pretty nice.

We also had Kevin’s confirmation today.  That was nice too, and he’s now a confirmed member of the church.  Here’s a few photos.

Just checkin’ in

I posted this on Facebook last week.  Sorry it took so long to get it over here, I need to change my habits and post everything HERE first, then share it to Facebook:  I had a 3-month checkup last week and it turns out I lost 16 lbs in 3 months. I am officially–permanently–well under 300 lbs now, and it feels great.  It’s nice to be going “backwards” for a change!  By that I mean that as I’m getting older it’s actually getting easier to do things, the pain is receding, and I’m feeling better, instead of just the opposite.  And the better I feel, the more I realize I should have done this a LOOOONG time ago, and I know I’ll never, ever, go back to weighing over 300 lbs again.  Everyone’s encouragement helps a lot too, and I really appreciate it.

So… Hurricane Sandy, huh?  That’s awesome.  Now I have a new nickname for my wife.  Seriously though, my cousin Julie seems to be right in Hurricane Sandy’s path.  This is not good.  Here’s the Facebook group for the hurricane.

Trick-or-Treat is this Sunday, October 28th.  Kevin’s going as Hawkeye from The Avengers and Socks is going as a pumpkin.  I’ll take a few pictures.  We’re also going to the pumpkin farm tonight.  Should be fun!

I promise to start posting more often… no matter how small it is, I’ll post something.  If you’ve noticed though, my daily walks are always added to my photos on Flickr and in the right sidebar all the time, so there’s that, and all of my checkins are updated regularly on FourSquare (and in the right sidebar), so don’t those count?  I know, I know, it’s just not the same…. those are automated and require little effort.  You want something more solid.  Be back soon… you AND me both…

Essential Android Apps

We’ve been very busy the past few weeks since Sandy’s dad George passed away.  He left behind a great family of three kids (if I can call them that) and a pretty darned nice house, if I do say so myself.  We’ve been busy getting things in order, cleaned up, shuffled around, and legally situated, and we’re almost ready to “Git ‘er done!” as they (Larry the Cable Guy) says.  Since I’m not willing to discuss anything regarding this in detail yet, and I still feel like writing, let’s talk apps.

There are a few apps on my Android that I just can’t live without, and I’d like to discuss them.  The first one is Evernote.  Evernote is free, and it’s awesome.  It’s very simple to use, and you can use it just as a basic note-taking app if you want to.  Once you write and save a note in Evernote, it’s on your account and will automatically sync with every other device you have (if you have Evernote on that device) and this way your notes will be available to you everywhere you need them!  This has become priceless for me at work–I often take notes before going offsite to other faciltiies.  I used to write up a quick Word document, print it, fold it up and put it in my pocket.  Now I simply type it up in an Evernote document and I can head out the door knowing when I take out my cell phone, it’ll be there for me to read whenever I need it.  Evernote also does much more.  It lets you attach files, insert images, and documents such as PDFs and docs, and it’ll even OCR your images and will find the text within them instantly whenever you search for something!

Another must-have app–for me, anyway–is Cardiotrainer.  I won’t walk without it.  It GPS-tracks your walks (or hikes, rides or drives), providing you with an excellent map of your journey as well as complete calorie-burning details and much more.  It even allows you to set optional goals for you trip, such as a specific amount of time you’d like to walk, a certain distance you’d like to travel, or a certain amount of calories you’d like to burn off, and it will prompt you accordingly at the intervals you set, as you walk, so you know exactly where you are and how close you are to your goal all the time.  This is one of those smart talking apps too–none of of beeps and ringtones, it talks plain english to you.  It will even automatically play a specific playlist of your music as you walk, if you want it to.  I prefer to listen to my audiobooks on my walks though, which encourages me to walk even more–so I can get further through each book I’m reading.  Cardiotrainer is free for basic use, but the “pro” version is the version I use, which include all of the features I mentioned.   It’s $9.99, which is actually pretty pricey for an Android app, but believe me, it’s worth every penny!  Especially if it helps you live longer and healthier, as it has me…A one-time $10 fee is a no-brainer!

There are many more apps I could mention here, but it’s time for breakfast, so I’ll only mention one more: Handcent.  Handcent is an SMS texting app replacement.  It replaces your stock Android texting app with a fancy-shmancy “bubble-type” texting app, akin to the iPhone texting app.  It includes a TON of options, so you can pretty much customize it exactly how you’d like it for everything from popups when you get a text to exactly what ringtones you want it to play for a specific person or for the default text-received ringtone.  It even has “skins”, which opens it up to hundreds (maybe even thousands) of user-created and custom skins you can use while texting.  You can even make it look and act just like the iPhone–if you want to keep it simple.

So that’s about it for now… breakfast time!