Weight Loss, Food, Clothing and a Financial crisis

So in my last post I had pics of me from last years holiday party. In those pictures I wore a size 54 jacket and size 48 pants. I went to Men’s Wearhouse on Sunday and bought a new suit. I had to, they basically laughed at me when I went in to see if I could get my old suit altered to fit me. You see this year I wear a size 44 coat and size 36 pants. That’s a big difference; so big that they told I had to get a new one, because they couldn’t alter any suit that much. While that in it self is great it’s also not.

Sure losing 114 pounds has done wonders for me; for my health and well being, my exercise and eating changes have been wonderful; not so much so for my wallet. In the past year I have spent more on clothing than I have ever had to. While I feel great and have surely added years to my life, my finances are feeling strained because of it.

Now, admittedly, I could have bought a cheaper suit than I did. I tried on a few at the mall and none garnered the approval of my wife, so it was off to Mens Wearhouse, where i had $50 in gift cards anyway. My intention was to buy a suit I saw on their website for $249 and since they were having a sale I could get a second one for $100. Great $349 – $50 is $299 not bad for 2 suits. Well they didn’t have the suits from the website in store (big shock) so I looked at what they did have. I ended up with a suit for $299; still not too bad. Add the second one in for $100 and we’re just under $400. Then they get you for tailoring, taxes, toll money, their kids college tuition and such, which I understand, but dang it if I didn’t end up spending over $500 after my gift cards were used up. So once again, I had been hornswoggled. I intended on spending about $250 and ended up doubling it. My wallet took another hit for the team. I feel sorry for it, I really do.

I’m liking the fact that I can shop in the “Mens” section not the “Big and Tall” section, which by the way is really just the “Big” section in my opinion. They believe that anyone with a waist larger than 42 is never going to have more than a 30″ inseam; but on the off chance you do it will most assuredly be because you are a gargantuan and have a 36″+ inseam. so all of the moderately tall fat guys get screwed. We either have to buy “highwater” pants or dress like we are Steve Urkel.

Sorry I got off track there, where was I? Oh yes my poor, poor wallet. In addition to having to bear the burden of my new wardrobe, my wallet has had to shoulder the weight of higher grocery costs. It’s amazing how much more it costs to eat healthy than to not. For example, I have been trying to move to more and more organic, and where possible locally sourced food stuffs. Here is a comparison with what I believe are fairly accurate numbers for one item.

Chicken. One of the most abundantly available meats products know to the US consumer. I never really gave much thought to the chicken, except maybe what to marinate it in on what to slather on it, until I changed my eating habits. Now I consider many factors when looking at this ubiquitous culinary item. Let’s say you want to make some chicken, so you meander on down to your local mega (or not so mega) mart; you are presented with a myriad of poultry choices.  Standard fare Chicken, Organic Chicken, All Natural Chicken, Free Range Chicken, Pastured Chicken among the bevy of others. each one with it’s own pricing structure and variance depending on a whole other list of factors.

For my comparison Let’s consider ordinary standard chicken, organic chicken and locally source pastured chicken. For my standard we will use a run of the mill mega mart chicken, an Organic Chicken, and a Local chicken procured from a local store (in this case Bushel and Peck in Beloit Wisconsin)

Standard Young Chicken 3-4 pounds: About $6, fed who knows what, kept in a tiny cage, gets crapped on by the bird above it, has it’s beak removed, treated inhumanely

Certified Organic chicken 4-5 pounds: About $8, fed grain, no antibiotics, kept in a pen with a bazillion other birds, crowded but not entirely inhumane treatment, doesn’t get sunlight or weather.

Locally sourced Pastured Organic Chicken 4-5 pounds: About $10, fed all natural grain, no antibiotics, allowed to roam and peck around in a field with a bunch of other birds, basically living the good life until he get’s culled for my consumption.

So you can see the hit a wallet takes. I want to buy the locally sourced bird. It helps a local farmer, my local economy, is good for me to eat, and I can rest easier knowing that the animal that gave it’s life for my dinner was treated with respect and dignity; but at nearly 2x the cost of the standard chicken I cannot afford to do so all the time. I will usually opt for the certified organic chicken to split the difference but I truly would prefer to get the local bird.

This same type of dilemma occurs for everything you buy when you change your eating, The food that is good for you costs more than the food that is not. I understand the economics of it. It costs more to raise the animals/vegetables/unicorns with out antibiotics and growth hormones because there are less overall successes in the end than there are in the factory farmed varieties that are made bigger, and faster with the help of science, chemical voodoo and Brawndo. I just don’t like it, nor do I have to. I do however have to tolerate it.

So now my food costs 2x as much, my clothes have all had to be replaced , and I had to buy a new suit. My wallet is sore, it has been taken to the woodshed and beaten within inches of it’s life. What’s a guy to do.

What’s your opinion? Tell me your thoughts.

Rob

On Losing Weight, Dieting, and My General Lunacy.

Hey Look It’s Me

Early in September 2010 I made a decision; I decided that I was getting too old to be fat. I could be fat, or I could be 40, not both. Since I haven’t figured out how to stop the march of time, I was left with only one path. I was about to turn 39 and weighed in at about 325 pounds. I had been half-heartedly been dieting whittling my weight down from an all-time high of 390 pounds. In 2008 I had dropped from 390 to 340 in a few months and kind of stalled out. I would lose a pound or two here and there but it took me another year to get to 325.  So that fateful September, I decided that I needed to stop dieting. Yes I said stop dieting. Dieting had done nothing but put me on a rollercoaster ride of losing and gaining weight, what I needed was a lifestyle change. Anyone who has dieted before knows how hard it is to stay on it, well it’s just as hard (if not harder) to alter the way you think about life and food.

I had already joined a gym and was going on a regular basis; doing all the same old routines I had done in high school and seeing little in the way of results (they didn’t work that well back then either). So I decided that I needed to find some tools to help supplement my quest for a healthier me. I wandered about the various exercise websites, and looked at all of the “weight loss by buying specialized food” sites and wasn’t getting much in the way of inspiration. I decided to see what was available in the Android Market on my phone. I typed in exercise and found a few apps that looked like they may hold promise. I searched on weight loss and found a few more apps that looked like they may be a decent resource. I installed a few different apps and saw nothing that I hadn’t seen in countless other places, that is until I loaded up MyFitnessPal. This application had a hook, it was tied to a website (http://www.myfitnesspal.com) that had a social aspect to it. You could find like-minded individuals who were willing to offer encouragement and were able to relate with your struggles.

(Me in December of 2010)

(A simple Comparison Picture)

I joined MyFitnessPal.com on September 13th 2010 weighing 325 pounds. I was determined to make a go of it and try for a big number. I wanted to lose 100 pounds by the time I turned 40. That gave me just over a year to get my butt whipped into shape and hit my target. Was it a foolish goal? Probably. Would it take determination, will power and a complete change of mindset to make it? Definitely. So I proceeded to use the website to set my goal weight. I chose 220 pounds and it asked me a few questions about my lifestyle. Based on my goal and my lifestyle (sedentary) it set my calorie intake and expenditure goals for me. OK now I had a plan and goal just like many other times before, but this time I had a weapon to help me.  By tracking the food I ate with the application on my phone, I soon learned I ate a lot more than I thought I did. A WHOLE LOT MORE. The first week of being on MFP,  I didn’t not make my calorie intake goal once. I did learn that I ate on average about 3500 calories a day and only expended about 2200 a day (not counting workouts). That meant 1300 calories in excess each day, well no wonder I didn’t succeed all those times before. This was a game changer. I knew what I needed to do straight away. The second week I made my goal every day, coming in below it by a few calories a few times. Progress at last; small steps to be sure, but progress none the less. For the first couple of months I relied on the machines I was using for cardio and the built in numbers on the MFP web site to tell me the calories I was burning (both of which, while helpful, are not accurate). I was losing weight, I averaged about 2 pounds a week; not too shabby. I was well on my way; If I could maintain 2 pounds per week I would make my goal with time to spare. I bought a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) and started using that to chart my calorie burns. I would take what the machine said I burned add what the HRM said and average them out. Then I would subtract my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) to get the approximate total burn for each workout. Yet another reason to use a smartphone, I needed to do math at the gym. In the old school days I would carry a little notebook and chart what workouts I did. These days my notebook is a phone and it charts the exercise, they calories burned, my calories exerted,  and keeps me in touch with a community of people all struggling with the same problem I am (a definite trade out from the old spiral).

I have a routine now too, just like the old days; only it’s a bit different. I work out 4 days a week. I start each day with the same breakfast (pretty much without fail). I find that the consistency helps me. What do I eat for breakfast you ask?
1 pure protein bar (usually Chocolate Deluxe)
1 Multivitamin
24 ounces of water

Yep that’s it; that is breakfast. I have snacks throughout the day the first one at about 9 am every day. Anyway back to the workout routine. As I said, 4 days a week. I workout onTuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Tuesday and Thursday I start out with chin-ups and Dips 30 of each then it’s cardio time I run. I used to walk, then I jogged, now I run. I average about 7.3 mph for 30 minutes. I use a machine called an Incline Trainer made by Freemotion. It allows me to run a course that varies from 3 degrees to 30 degrees of incline. That’s right I run on 30 degree incline for part of my workout. Typically the course keeps you at a level for 1 minute then changes. The constant change in incline keeps your body from being too adjusted and it has to constantly recalibrate itself. This leads to big burns for me ion the calorie department.  After the Incline trainer I move on to another machine (crazy I know) made by Precor it’s a 546i Crossramp. It’s like an elliptical but without moving arms, and the ramp goes between 1 degree and 20 degrees of inclination. Yep you guessed it. I run a course that varies on this one too. 30 minutes at about 6.5 mph. I don’t burn as many calories on it but it works all the muscles of your legs throughout the workout.

On Saturdays I add weights. 30 minutes of weight training, plus an additional 30 minutes on the Incline Trainer. So that’s about 10 miles of running on ever changing courses plus weights. Saturday is my big day I tend to burn about 2000 calories at the gym.

Sunday is strictly cardio. No chin-ups, No dips. Just running on the two machines.

I track everything I eat using MFP. I track all my exercise using MFP. MFP has kept me on my course (unlike this rambling story). MFP was the tool I used to make myself more accountable for the way I treated my body. It is that accountability that has made my dramatic weight loss possible. I know you’re wondering: “Did he lose the weight? Did he make his goal?”   Yes and Yes. I hit my goal on September 4th 2011, a full month before my target date. As of today I weigh 218 pounds. I am still working out like mad training for the Toughmudder 2012 (http://toughmudder.com ).   It’s a 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by former special forces members. I have inspired my cousin too. He is going to participate in the mudder with me.

I guess what I really wanted to convey here was that it is possible. I lost over 100 pounds in under a year. The tools to help you are out there, and many like MFP are free, the only cost is your own motivation.  For better or worse I have changed my life, and my lifestyle. I eat better (for the most part), I exercise routinely, and I am maintaining my weight loss.  My next challenge; besides the Toughmudder? Getting this loose skin tightened up so I feel less like a shar-pei. That may take a while though.

Rob

Update: 6/22/2012 Just figured I would add a new picture

Me as of today

As of today I weigh 215 pounds. I currently wear a 34″ waist and a large shirt. I work out 4 days a week and limit the total amount of calories I eat per day to around 2200.

My Breakfast is still 24 oz water, a protein bar and a vitamin, but I have added glucosamine as a supplement as well.

I still log into MFP everyday, but I don’t always log my meals.  If you get on there feel free to request me as a friend. my userid is robrowald.

Descent into Madness – A poem

Attempt number two at getting back in touch with my creative side. I hope you enjoy it.

Descent into Madness

This is my descent into madness
It starts with grey
The thoughts
The day
The madness not rising but
The sanity draining away
Clarity receding
Giving way to the murkyness
Allowing the demons to show
Repeating the same actions
Expecting new results
Tunnel vision and lack of forethought
Dragging me down
Not willingly but not resisting either
This is how it begins…

Samsung Droid Charge: A real life review

I’m going to do a down and dirty review of the Samsung Droid Charge. In real world terms much like I did for the Motorola Xoom. So here we go.

I have had my Droid Charge for a 3.5 months now and I can finally give it a review, as it has been field tested. As with any review the bias will be my own, based on how I use the device, your mileage may vary. This will be a simple good vs. bad list.

Good:

The Screen: The Charge has a beautiful screen. it’s a 4.5″ Super AMOLED work of art. It has great viewing angles and produces eye popping color. The blacks are dark, rich, and best of all  BLACK. Not a washed out grey like most screens portray and call black. Videos have that vivid detail that high end flat panels boast about.

The Cameras: The Charge has 2 cameras. First there is an 8MP rear facing shooter that takes great pictures. It works well in lower light situations, much better than my Droid X ever could. Like most multifunction devices it has a bevy of shooting modes and filters so you can get your sepia fix. It has a macro mode, a standard mode and a “beauty” mode, for portraits and such. The stand out feature for me, however, is the panoramic mode. I can hear you now “My <insert device name here> does panoramic pictures”. Yep so did my Droid X but no where as intuitively as the Droid Charge does. It uses the gyroscope and the accelerometer to know where you should be for each of the 8 parts of the panoramic picture. It puts guides in and will not take the next shot useless you are right on the money, in terms of location. The result are breathtaking pictures that capture a huge field of focus. The front facing camera is no slouch either. while nowhere near the resolution of the rear camera, it works well for self portraits, video chats and stuff like that. It also works really well in lower light environments. The camcorder feature will do up to  720p class video and does a great job with it. It records decent audio and will zoom as much as 4x with interpolation. It won’t replace a real camcorder with that tiny little CMOS sensor but it will sure be a plausible replacement for that talent show or parade you happen to find yourself stuck at.

The Memory: The Charge comes with a 32GB card installed. I’ll let that sink in a moment. That’s right it comes with 32GB of space on board when you pull it out of the box. Great for storing copious amounts of data. Sure it’s only a class 2 card but it beats a sharp stick in the eye. The device itself has 1GB of memory on board for the OS and storage of key elements, everything else is stuck on your SD card.  Not an entirely bad way to do it, it works well enough for me.

Connectivity: The Charge is a LTE enabled device. that means if you are in a LTE area, you get high speed data access. it does pretty well at dishing it up too. I regularly get 13+Mbit speeds on it in my area; not too shabby for a phone. It does well as a 3G device and will revert to 1x as required too. You’ll get better battery life using 3G than LTE but more about that that later. The Charge has hotspot capabilities and will host up to 5 external devices via wifi and dole out bandwidth to all of them, if you’re willing to pay for the service. The wifi radio is sufficient but nothing to make you jump up and down. It maintains connections even when you have no bars. I’m not sure if the logic for reporting the signal strength is off or what but it never seems to have a full signal, even if i am within 5′ of the AP.

Voice Quality: I have had no complaints for voice quality with this device. People say they can hear me just fine, and the sound quality is excellent. I can say the same about when I receive calls. The phone produces excellent depth of voice and makes it seem like you are standing right next to the person when talking to them. Being a VZW device, coverage is excellent and there are very few areas where you can’t get reception.

Feel: Over all the phone has good hand feel. It’s a large device with some weight to it so it feels like a real phone. The plastic bezel and battery cover make it feel a bit cheaper, but it by no means feels like a kids toy. The touch interface is responsive, although it requires a bit more force to select items than my other touch screen devices have. That’s not a bad thing in my opinion, it makes it a bit more tactile, which is something most people miss on a touch only device.

BAD:

Battery life: There is a reason that the call this device the Charge and it’s not because it will go forever on one. Don’t get me wrong it’s not terrible, but it sure isn’t great. It comes stock with a 1600mah battery, which gives me just enough juice to make it to lunch time on a fairly busy day. If you turn the brightness down, and lock it into 3g only mode and make sure you have wifi on any time your someplace that you can get it, you can squeeze a couple of more hours out of it, but it in now way compares to the Droid X it replaces. I could go 12-13 hours on the standard battery with the X, and 18 or more on the slim extended one. I can make it 16 or so with the extended battery for the Charge but it more than doubles the weight of the device and adds a huge hump on it’s backside. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal but you can’t use any cases, or mounts for it with the big battery in.

GPS: It works OK, but damn does it take its sweet time getting locked into a signal. It can take upwards of 40 seconds to get a lock. once it gets a lock it works like it should but if I’m standing in the wide open with a plain view of the entire sky it should not take almost a minute before I can use the GPS.

Button Placement: The volume rocker is placed directly across from the power button. While you may not think this is a big deal, just try using the power button. You’ll hit the volume keys every time unless you really put forth an effort to not touch them. It wouldn’t really matter but the volume keys are used to get into diagnostic modes such as recovery, so it you hit the power button and inadvertently grab the volume key too, you can cause yourself some headaches.

NO LED indicator: This boggled me at first. I wouldn’t know if I had something waiting for my attention because outside of the first indication (a sound prompt) you couldn’t tell if you had a message, missed call, email etc. because there is no little flashing LED to alert you. This means you have to either power on the screen (which only happens via pressing the power button by the way) or employ a third party utility such as NoLED to let you know. It seems like a minor thing but believe me it’s a major oversight in my opinion; besides having that little LED could save battery life, because you wouldn’t have to power up the big screen to know if you had a waiting item to be reviewed.

LAG: That’s right this phone suffers from lag. Not all the time mind you but a good bit of the time. I’m not sure if it’s due to the file system that Samsung chose to use or if it’s due to the single core processor or a combination of the two factors. Granted you can fix it with some hackery and some OS leaks that are readily available on the web but shouldn’t they just make it so it works quickly all the time?

Conclusion:

Over all I can say I would recommend the Samsung Droid Charge with a couple of caveats.

Don’t expect this device to be the be all end all. it’s a mid-class device. It can’t hang with the Bionics, or the SGII crowd. It’s a solid device in it’s own right but it’s now high end super phone.

Don’t expect to have awesome battery life out of the gate. It’s a LTE device with an awesome screen. Expect that to drain some juice from the under powered battery that comes with the device.

If you can live with those 2 items I’d say buy this sucker. If you’re into taking video and pictures, like watching videos or listening to music, this is a solid choice. If your looking for a mid-class all in one device that has a few trade offs for some really good options, this may be your device.

I feel the “GOODS” outweigh the “BADS” for this device and if I had to assign it a numerical value I’d give it a solid 8.5 out of 10. There you have it I have officially stated my position on this device, and That as they say is that.

Rob

On the subject of getting older or Rob grows up a little bit

As some of you know I have another birthday coming up soon. I will have survived 40 complete revolutions around a ball of gas bigger than myself on October 9th. In regards to this, I have been asked by several people if I intend to have a big shindig to celebrate this milestone.

My answer is always the same; I flatly say “No”. Why is that, you may be asking… Let me cast some illumination on the subject at hand for you. Growing up the way I did, holidays like Christmas were less than stellar events, with people fighting and walking and eggshells trying to avoid each other at all costs and birthdays were even worse. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a buzzkill, but to me personally birthdays are not that big of a thing.

I survived another 365 days living, what can be arguably called an easy 1st world life. Really, is it so much of an accomplishment to have survived this long in a place where food, shelter, medicine, and modern conveniences are readily available? Not really, now had I cured some disease, or developed some radical new way to solve a problem that plagues the world, I would have cause to celebrate, but merely surviving, that is no real reason for a big celebration.

I will however mark the occasion with quiet dignity, and perhaps spend time with a few chosen friends. I feel no need for gifts, as I can pretty much buy whatever I want for myself at this point in my life. If someone decides that they want to get me a gift, I will not refuse it, but there is no need to go out of your way to do such a thing. I’m just as happy to have your company as I am your tributes.

I know there are plenty of people who will not understand my stance on the subject, but I’m sure there are just as many who will just get it. My hope these days is that if someone wants to get my a gift make it a donation to a worthy cause in my name, or better yet, go out into our community and find a person who could use a hand up and help them out; no strings attached. A random act of kindness to a stranger in need would be just as good, if not better, as donating money to a cause in my opinion.

A few years back there was a movie called “Pay it forward”, while the movie itself was just OK, the subject matter was excellent. Now anyone that knows me can tell you that,  I don’t believe in many things that are intangible, but in the past few years I have really seen that our actions have consequences and what we do know will be reflected back at us in due time. Whether you want to call it karma, fate, serendipity, destiny, certainty of circumstance or kismet; the simple truth is what goes around comes around.

OK, I know it seems as I have veered off the tracks of the subject matter, but stay with me and you will see that we are indeed still on course. If I could have just one wish fulfilled on my or for my birthday it would be this:

For one day follow the advice of two fictional characters, Bill and Ted. As Abraham Lincoln said in the movie “These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition which is as true today as it was in my time. Be excellent to each other.” I’m not going to attempt to dictate what that is to anyone. Everyone must decide, on their own,  what it means. For some it may be a simple act of kindness, for others it may mean going out of your way to help someone out. For some of the people out there simply saying thank you to someone for a change would qualify.

So there it is. I have laid it down. Will you pick it up? I don’t and most likely will never know, but I can say this: If just one person takes the initiative and decides to “Be Excellent” to someone else, it will come back to you. It may not be immediate, but be assured that making life, even the tiniest bit, more shiny for someone who is in a dark place is good for you. Try it some time, often, or even just once. The world will thank you in its own way.

Rob

A tech guy who is talking less and less about tech or How I’m trying to get back to things I did in college

Hey Look It’s Me

Yeah you read that right, As of late I have found myself thinking less and less about tech items. Now don’t get me wrong, I still like electronic toys. I have multiple DishNetwork receivers, 2 Logitech Revues, a Meraki cloud controlled wireless access point, a Xoom tablet, and Android phone and a bevy of other items that I use on a regular basis. I like my toys, and I like computers and networking but I  like not using them as much these days too. Unless I am playing a game or having to VPN into work to fix things, I rarely pick up my laptop anymore. If I need to surf the web I tend to use my tablet or my Google TV unit and that’s just peachy.  I have a smartphone because work pays for it, if they didn’t I would probably go back to a dumbphone.

Where the biggest fundamental shift has been is in the tech prognostication arena. I used to keep abreast of everything that was being discussed, thought about, tested, manufactured, and what have you. I used to be the go to guy for what the next big trend in IT was going to be for many people, but in the last few years I have noticed that I have, by and large, become less interested in the “what’s next”. I’m not sure if I’m burned out, jaded, tired, or just genuinely disinterested but the “tech future” area of my brain is getting smaller and smaller. It may be because I have made a few changes in my life, including more physical activity, and eating better.

I find that instead of  thinking about technology as much I am instead thinking about outdoor adventures; things like hiking, camping and as of late The Tough Mudder 2012 that I am going to attempt. I find that I think about places I could go for these activities instead of thinking about things that would keep me inside. Mind you my wife wouldn’t believe any of this, because of all the tech related items that float around our house, due to me being a beta tester for a few different companies, but I swear its true.

For years I would go to bed and have blissfully dreamless sleep. close my eyes and fade to black. I would awake refreshed but it would literally be as if I just closed my eyes. Time was instantly passed with no sense of time gone. In the last 6 months or so I have noticed that I remember dreaming. I rarely retain what I was dreaming about for more than few seconds but it’s a start. When I was a kid I would have very vivid and often times lucid dreaming sessions. I am hoping that those days return. I cannot say with certainty what is causing the shift in my neural activity but I honestly think it has more to do with my physical activity levels these days.

So it appears, from my perspective, that the increase in physical activity/fitness has made my brain stop thinking/caring as much about tech and in turn made me think more about more physical activity and creative things again. Sure the change has been slight in the grand scale of things but a change is a change none the less. I have recently began to think about writing poetry and short stories again. I have even toyed with the notion of trying to get back into doing art again. I could be completely off base here, it may have absolutely nothing to do with the lifestyle change. It may be caused by changes that come with getting older. Who knows, certainly not me, but I’m going to ride this out and see where it takes me.  So if you happen to follow me on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter you may notice less and less tech talk then again you may not. Only time will tell.

Rob

SOciopath – a poem

I used to do art work, not paintings, or sculpture. but odd prints made with turpentine and photocopies transferred to canvas or paper. I used to write poetry, quite a bit. Then I stopped doing all things creative and I’m not entirely sure why. I have a couple of hundred poems in various degrees of completeness in many notebooks, on scraps of paper, and rattling around in the chaos that is my mind. A couple of years back, my wife took a lot of time to transcribe all my scribblings into a compiled word document, which I’m sure took her quite a long time because of the voluminous amounts of verbiage, compounded by my horrible handwriting.

I was sitting at my desk today during lunch (thanks to crummy weather) and decided to try and write a poem. it’s similar in vein to many of my older works, but is heavily influenced by the fact that The Hollywood Undead were playing on Slacker, and I watched two episodes of Dexter last night. It is by no means complete, but it is what it is; me dipping my toe back into the creative waters.

Without further adieu, I present SOciopath (yep the o is supposed to be capitalized)

When you look do you see me
The real me
the one with the empty eyes, barren soul
the one who is callus and apathetic
the one I protect not
The me I project
the one with all the answers
the one with the confidence
the one who cares about the trivial little things in your life
The razor barbed nerves frayed and frazzled or
the charming gent who has you dazzled
SO
When you look do you see me
or who you want me to be

Motorola Xoom: My thoughts and review on the device

So I have had my Motorola Xoom for a while now and decided to share my thoughts on it thus far. As with any review the bias will be my own, based on how I use the device, your mileage may vary. This will be a simple good vs. bad list.

Good:

Battery life: Battery life on the Xoom is amazing. I’m not a true “power user” but I do use my device a lot. It gets put through the paces. I received my Xoom on Friday 2/25 @ 11am; it arrived with 85% charge on the battery. I used it for several hours on end, then several times throughout the rest of the day until about 10pm. Installing apps, synching Email, and contacts, playing a couple of games (including downloading all the data files for dungeon defenders HD). When I plugged the beast in the for the night (about 10-10:30) it still had 40% battery left. I used it as my primary computing device on Saturday, composing emails, tweeting, facebooking, RDPing to my server, viewing office documents, etc. I unplugged it at 5:45am and used it all day (again until about 10pm) and when I plugged it in that evening it still had about 30%battery life.  To me that is amazing.

Charge time: It takes roughly 1.5 hours to go from 30% to 100% for charging times on the included charging adapter. Not too shabby considering the run time you can get out of the battery.

Screen size: 10ish inches to me, is the perfect size for a tablet device. I find that 7” screens are a bit too small for true usefulness as a business device. The screen resolution is 1280×800 which surprisingly is easy on the eyes. I am able to open office docs and view them with ease. The included Quick Office HD makes for easy reading and editing of documents, and on a 10” screen so much more effective than on the 4.3” screen on my phone.

Connectivity: Being an early adopter, I have the 3G version of the Xoom, I opted to buy a 1GB prepaid data plan just to play with it. It turns out the Xoom is pretty darned intelligent about when to use the 3G. I added my Google account to the Xoom, and since I use the restore feature for my Droid X it restored all my Wi-Fi connectivity information to the Xoom. Yep that’s right I didn’t have to re-enter any of my Hotspot info, thanks to good ole Google. The Xoom defaults to Wi-Fi when you are in range of a remembered hotspot. You read that right, it defaults to Wi-Fi when it can use a in range hot spot. That is awesome. So it automatically saves your 3G data for the last resort connection, that is great. The Wi-Fi radio is dual band as well picking up both my 2.4 and my 5 Ghz hotspots with ease.

Performance: performance is great, as you would expect. The tegra processor is a beast, and Honeycomb is designed to exploit multi core processors. This makes for a smooth, lag free experience. Nothing more really needs to be said about it, other than : you will not be disappointed by the processor in this device.

Overall Size/Weight: The Xoom is almost the same size and weight of the iPad, which makes it a winner in terms of size. It has a relatively small bezel area and plenty of screen real estate. The weight of 1.1 pounds gives it a good feel, without being overly burdensome. The device has a great study feel to it, with very little flex. It appears to have the same gorilla glass that the Droid X has, which is a plus. I could carry this with me all day long and barely notice it among my other notepads, and paperwork.

Portability: The size and weight of the Xoom lend it to be ultra portable. It feels like carrying a notepad. You know those old school things with paper and sheets… Yeah it’s a bit heavier than a traditional notepad, but not by much. It would slide into a briefcase, backpack, or purse with no effort at all. That being said, being ultraportable does not mean flimsy. This device is solid.  “Gorilla” Glass on the front & a metal casing make it very rigid. It has a decent amount of heft (1.5 pounds approximately) which also makes it feel very solid and sturdy when you’re holding it.

RAM: 1GB, more memory is always better than less, and the Xoom has plenty of RAM to spare, 1GB of memory in a device like this gives it the ability to handle multiple open applications/files with ease. I installed a memory manager just to see how much memory I had available at any given moment, and it turns out that with everything open that I use I still had about 300MB of memory available at any given time.

Video performance: Videos play smoothly, and look great on the Xoom. I saw no lag or stuttering while watching HD video. I watched both local and streaming video on the Xoom and both types looked great. This device is not lacking on the video performance area at all.

Unlockable: The Bootloader is unlockable, now if you’re an average user this means nothing to you, but if you’re a tinkering type, this is awesome news. It means you can get custom ROMS and root access with relative ease. Just know that unlocking the bootloader will instantly void your warranty. So be sure you want to do it.

Bad:

No SMS: Yep no SMS capabilities. Which was a bummer for me, I would have loved to have had the ability to text from this device. I’m not sure if it’s because the phone functions are not present in Honeycomb, or some other restriction that is in place, but hopefully some resourceful developers will get this remedied.

No Gvoice: You can’t install it from the market, and if you restore it from a backup it will just force close over and over, so no Gvoice for SMS either, again hopefully this will be a problem that is fixable in the near future, though as a work around you can always access the web version which works just fine from the Xoom.

Glossy screen: Yeah Glossy screens are overrated. I would have preferred to have a matte screen on this puppy or at the very least a less glossy screen. Glossy screens look pretty but cause lots of glare in a lot of different lighting conditions. The color saturation is great on the Xoom, but having to adjust the device to various angles to avoid glare can be a pain in the behind. Fortunately the device is small enough that this issue isn’t a complete tragedy.

Price: one word: OUCH. Yeah I paid full price so as not to have a contract, and it’s a steep price indeed. With taxes, delivery, a one month prepaid data plan and a couple of accessories (screen protectors, and the portfolio case) the total out the door for me was $900. Which I would never had paid, if it wasn’t a work expense. We are looking at getting a few of these for trade shows and presentations on the go, so the device for me is a legitimate piece of research. I think if the off contract price was about $600 this device would sell like hotcakes, because it is an awesome piece of equipment. The WiFi only version has been officially announced at $599 If you don’t need 3g/4g connectivity, that is your winner.

No Charging via USB: Yeah you read that right, the USB port does not allow you to charge the device, instead you have to use the proprietary charging port, which means yet another wall wart, and car adapter, this is a failure on Motorola’s part in my opinion. I get it, the beast needs more power than a USB port provides, how about the ability to trickle charge it via the USB port, sure it may take me 8-10 hours instead of 2 to fully charge it, but you know, I’d like to have the option at least.  Having to have yet another set of chargers is not a good thing for mobile professionals.

No SD card access (yet): As of right now thje micro SD card slot is not usable. I know it’s just a matter of time before it is useable, and having 32GB of onboard storage should be enough for a while, but I feel like the device is somewhat neutered by the fact that I can’t access the SD slot yet. I know it will be accessible in the future (it says so on the SD card dummy in the device) but this should have been addressed before releasing it in my opinion.

No Flash (yet): Like the SD card this is a fail in my opinion. Again, I know it’s coming soon, but it should have been included at launch. While it’s not a huge deal, it’s a pain in the butt, seeing as lots of sites employee flash.

So over all I can say I would recommend the Xoom. I feel the “goods” outweigh the “bads”. The device could be a great companion device to have at the office, on the road or at home. Will it completely replace your computer? Not likely, unless you are a really light user, will it be better than a laptop on a plane, or even on the couch, it sure could be. I used it as my primary surfing device over the last weekend and it worked great. I can say that if all your activities are encompassed by checking email, surfing the web, and social network updates, this device could be your daily driver. If I had to assign a numerical value on a scale of 10,  I’d give it a 8.75. When the SD Slot and Flash Issues get resolved it will be above a 9.

Illinois: Land of the myopically visioned.

Short post.

Today the Moron that is the governor of our once great state (Illinois) signed a bill into law. What’s wrong with that?  Well this bill (HB 3659) directly affects a lot of people I know, and would not hesitate to call my friends. It  will force a friend to move a business that has been nothing but beneficial to the area in which I live both in terms of jobs and community support. Fatwallet (www.fatwallet.com) is owned by a friend of mine, employs several of my friends, and former coworkers. This new law affects the way that fatwallet does business with some of it’s largest clients. HB 3659 forces out- of-state retailers to collect Illinois state sales tax for Internet sales, based on the premise that affiliate marketers create nexus in Illinois. Recently, Illinois has emerged as a hotbed for technology businesses and is now considered the single largest state for the Affiliate Marketing Industry. That is until today. Governor Quinn, proving that he is shortsighted signed HB2659 into law and effective slammed the door on the emerging market that was a bright spot in the otherwise dismal job market for our area. Bravo, dumb ass, bravo. Things like this make me wonder why I continue to live in this state.

 

My friend April, elaborates on the subject with more eloquence than i do, read her blog…  http://akunzelman.blogspot.com/2011/03/thanks-illinois-for-your.html?spref=tw

I am a modern day caveman

Hey Look It's Me

So I have been hitting the gym pretty hard as of late and I stopped today and looked at my feet after working out. I mean I really looked at them. Feet are pretty ugly to begin with; I mean I know they serve a very specific purpose and all, but seriously my feet are more akin to what you would imagine Neanderthal man to have not a modern 21st century hominid. Anyway back to the issue at hand. I was looking at these ugly appendages at the end of my legs and you know what; my second & third toes on each foot are bruised under the toenail (yeah pretty gross I know).
I think this is due to the fact that I run more on my toes/ball of my foot than on my heel. This is ironic because I walk just the opposite. All my shoes that are just daily wear types have the heels worn down, my gym shoes have the fronts worn down. What the heck is up with that. First off Who expects a 270# guy to run on the balls of his feet, second of all why is it that I appear to be the only person at the gym that does this? Is it weird that I run this way? Is this also a throwback like my over sized suborbital ridge (again very Neanderthalesque). Come to think of it I’m a bit more like a caveman and less like a modern human in a few ways…
1.)  I have what I call gorilla arms; my arms are long. No really they are long, bordering on freakishly long. I’m 6’3″ tall and I have arms that are 39.5″ long. I have trouble finding shirts with long sleeves because my arms are so long.
2.) Hair: Not only do i have very rough/course hair on my face and head (think bristle brush), I’m covered in hair, granted I’m not as hairy as some other people out there, but I have been shaving since about age 12. Oh sure it’s all cool to be the first of your friends to shave, but not when you have to shave 2x a day. Granted since I have gotten older the rate at which the hair grows has slowed down and I have gotten more lax about the frequency at which I shave but I bet I could still shave 2x a day.
3.) The afore mentioned suborbital ridge: That’s right ladies, I know you’re probably thinking to yourselves “He’s quite the looker.” on top of the last two wonderful items, I have a hard bony ridge in the place where normal people have eye brows. Now this is not to say that it sticks out freakishly or anything; it’s just a bit more pronounced than what most people I know have. I have a thick skull in both the literal and figurative senses. I could do some serious damage If i headbutted someone.
4.) Feet: Yep we’re right back where we started. If you were to look down at my feet you’d swear I walked around barefoot in a gravel pit all day. My feet are wide, flat and rough. I’m the kind of guy who can walk across gravel and not really notice that pointy piece that always seems to poke you in the arch. I went and used that Dr. Scholl’s foot analyzer thing and it said I needed the CF440. For those of you not in the know; Dr. Scholl’s has placed these foot analyzer devices in various stores to help you determine what kind of shoe insert you required to help keep your feet from aching at the end of the day.  Mine is the CF440: for flat feet, with a low arch, that hit the heel and ball of the foot. this brings us full circle to my original issue: my poor toes
Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do to help my toes out? obviously I’m not going to stop running but maybe someone has some tricks/tips to lessen the damage I’m doing to my toes. I’m all ears.

A philosophy I can get behind (for the most part)

As most of you know, I am not a religious man at all. I have my own belief system that is based on what I have learned about the world and the people in it over the course of my life so far. When I was younger and far less intelligent I was a militant ass; much more intolerant and therefore far less tolerable to be around. You could say I was a complete shit, and I would not have cause to correct you, as it is unfortunately true.

I have since grown older, wiser*, softer, and some would say more apathetic towards most everything in general. This has made me realize a few things; one being everybody needs a philosphy that they can subscribe to (even if very loosely), so if you are in between belief systems or even if you are not, I encourage your to read the following short list and see if you can use it until you find something better/more fitting to your life style. This is by no means me trying trying push anything on anyone. On the contrary, I found this and thought I would share it with you: my captive audience of relatives, acquaintences, friends, Romans, and countrymen.

I cannot take credit for what your are about to read but I think (for the most part) it is a good set of ideals. Feel free to substitute any of the diety specific references for your own higher power icon. There is a link at the bottom to the originating website if you are so inclined, if not, that’s just peachy as well.

The church of the Flying Spaghetti Monsters Eight “I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts”

1. I’d really rather you didn’t act like a sanctimonious holier-than-thou ass when describing my noodly goodness. If some people don’t believe in me, that’s okay. Really, I’m not that vain. Besides, this isn’t about them so don’t change the subject.

2. I’d really rather you didn’t use my existence as a means to oppress, subjugate, punish, eviscerate, and/or, you know, be mean to others. I don’t require sacrifices, and purity is for drinking water, not people.

3. I’d really rather you didn’t judge people for the way they look, or how they dress, or the way they talk, or, well, just play nice, okay? Oh, and get this into your thick heads: woman = person. man = person. Samey = Samey. One is not better than the other, unless we’re talking about fashion and I’m sorry, but I gave that to women and some guys who know the difference between teal and fuchsia.

4. I’d really rather you didn’t indulge in conduct that offends yourself, or your willing, consenting partner of legal age AND mental maturity. As for anyone who might object, I think the expression is “go f*** yourself,” unless they find that offensive in which case they can turn off the TV for once and go for a walk for a change.

5. I’d really rather you didn’t challenge the bigoted, misogynistic, hateful ideas of others on an empty stomach. Eat, then go after the bastard.

6. I’d really rather you didn’t build multi million-dollar synagogues / churches / temples / mosques / shrines to my noodly goodness when the money could be better spent (take your pick):

Ending poverty

Curing diseases

Living in peace, loving with passion, and lowering the cost of cable

I might be a complex-carbohydrate omniscient being, but I enjoy the simple things in life. I ought to know. I AM the creator.

7. I’d really rather you didn’t go around telling people I talk to you. You’re not that interesting. Get over yourself. And I told you to love your fellow man, can’t you take a hint?

8. I’d really rather you didn’t do unto others as you would have them do unto you if you are into, um, stuff that uses a lot of leather/lubricant/vaseline. If the other person is into it, however (pursuant to #4), then have at it, take pictures, and for the love of Mike, wear a CONDOM! Honestly, it’s a piece of rubber. If I didn’t want it to feel good when you did it I would have added spikes, or something.

http://www.venganza.org/

*this is a matter of opinion, and surely up for debate

My tribute to John Hughes Via “Dogma” and Kevin Smith

Bethany: McHenry is pretty far from Jersey, might I ask what brings you guys to Illinois?
Jay: Some fuck named John Hughes.
Bethany: “16 Candles” John Hughes?
Jay: You know him too? That fucking guy. Made this flick “16 Candles” right? Not bad it’s got tits in it, but no bush. Of course Ebert over here don’t give a shit about that stuff cause he’s all in love with this John Hughes guy and rents every one of his movies. Fucking “Breakfast Club” all these stupid kids actually show up to detention, fucking “Weird Science” where this one chick wants to take off her gear and get down, but aw, no she don’t cause it’s a PG movie, and then there’s “Pretty In Pink” which I can’t watch with this tubby muthafucker any more, because everytime we get to the part where the red head hooks up with her dream guy, he starts sobbin’ like a little eight-year-old with a skinned knee and shit. And nothing is worse then watching a fat man weep.  See, all these movies take place in a small town called Shermer, in Illinois, where all the honies are top-shelf, but all the dudes are whiny pussies – except for Judd Nelson, he was fuckin’ harsh – but best of all, there was no one dealin’, man; then, it hits me: we could live like phat rats if we were the blunt connection in Shermer, Illinois. So we collected some money we were owed, and we caught a bus. You know what the fuck we found out when we got there? There is no Shermer in Illinois. Movies are fuckin’ bullshit.


One of my favorite poems…

The Walrus and The Carpenter

Lewis Carroll

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright–
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done–
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun!”

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead–
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
“If this were only cleared away,”
They said, “it would be grand!”

“If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose,” the Walrus said,
“That they could get it clear?”
“I doubt it,” said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head–
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat–
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more–
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
“Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed–
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”

“But not on us!” the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
“After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!”
“The night is fine,” the Walrus said.
“Do you admire the view?

“It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf–
I’ve had to ask you twice!”

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

The Beginning

Another bright IdeaIn the beginning, the was nothing and nothing was good.
Then came something, it wasn’t much of anything but it was something, and suddenly nothing wasn’t good enough anymore because everyone knows that when you get something from nothing it only leads to more things.
Then like clock work something else came from the something that so abruptly appeared in the nothing.
So we had nothing, then something, then something else, what was next?
Well everything of course, if you have nothing and then something, and then something else again, the only logical step is everything
We had nothing and nothing was good
When we had something and suddenly nothing wasn’t good because something supplanted it and something was good
Then we had something else which in turn took over the spot that something (and nothing before it) had occupied
Then we got everything, and everything that was anything prior to everything’s arrival was rendered worth nothing (remember when nothing was all we had and nothing was good).
Suddenly Everything was good and Nothing was bad, and Something, well something just wasn’t good enough.
We should have been happy with nothing, but no we had to have something, then we had to have something else, which only led us astray with the temptation of having everything, and look where that got us.