Stuff to do

I am really looking forward to next week as it is our first vacation of the year. We tend to wait until the summer months to take our precious days off and we’re right in the middle of summer now. I have been at my job a lot longer than my wife Stacy but somehow


Doing Stuff

Some of the things we have been talking about doing in places we would like to go.  So for example we were thinking about going to a place where you can go bicycling around because that is something that is cool.  There are a few places that would be cool for that and it’s really


Busy stuff

Getting all of the things I need to do finished has been a bit of a task because I am thinking that there are these options for how I want to do things and it’s not really something that I can just be like I want to do these because I need to consider everything


All these channels

Having limited choices when it comes to tv sucks. I mean, you can get cable, but they aren’t very good because there aren’t too many other providers and they know it so they basically just negotiate change with you for whatever rates they want and you don’t have much choice. That is why I was


My Wireless Network

It’s kind of interesting to think about how much we use the online world for everything regardless of what we’re doing.  I know there are a few people who don’t use it that much, but I think most people do, and I know just about everyone I know does.  One of the things I have


The Travel Bug

The Travel Bug

Well, I’m in vacation mode now.  After that last entry I made where I was talking about how I want to take a vacation, it’s pretty much the only thing I’ve been thinking about. Heh.  I’m thinking about the places I want to go.  I think it would be awesome to go somewhere that is halfway around the world.  I mean, after going to Costa Rica, which is another country but still pretty close to home, I’m gonna want to go to Europe or Asia or something.  I think I have the travel bug.  I’d like to go to Europe and visit Amsterdam, take a ride in a gondola in Italy, and visit a brewery in Germany.  Or maybe go visit the great wall in China, go see a Muay Thai fight in Thailand, or relax on the beach in Indonesia.  I recently learned that Indonesia is really a group of islands and you have to fly or take a boat to get from one to the other, so if I go there I’d probably travel across the different islands and stay at a different hotel on each one.  I’d find a hotel Bandung and plan my activities there and then head over to the next island, etc.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get enough PTO from work to do all this traveling, though.  I usually have a lot of vacation time available but I’m always kind of hesitant to take it because I always feel like I’m gonna get behind or miss something important and then be behind when I come back.  I hate that feeling.  I worked at a company like that in the past where they would give you a lot of time off but you could never really use any of it because it was always so busy.  The worst part was if you wanted to use it you would have to do extra work ahead of time.  So say you wanted to take Thursday and Friday off, you would probably end up working 40 hours Monday through Wednesday and then having to use your paid time off on Thursday and Friday, anyway.  So you basically worked the same amount you would’ve worked anyway and had to use vacation time.  No thanks.  I think that’s probably why no one ever went on vacation there.

My current job is better, though, and as I said I plan on going somewhere this year just to expand my horizons.

Taking a Vacation This Year

Taking a Vacation This Year

Many people seem to take vacations every summer.  Our family never seemed to, though.  Growing up, my friends would always go somewhere each summer and then when school started the following year the teacher would always have us write papers about what we did over the summer, and they’d always have these stories to tell.  I can really only remember a few places that we went.  I’m not sure why.  I think maybe my parents just didn’t like to travel much.  It seems that people do the same things into adulthood, too.  Most of my coworkers take a vacation each summer, but I never really have.  As I’m approaching middle age, now, I think it’s time I change that habit!

This summer I’m going to go somewhere and do something awesome.  I still haven’t decided where I want to go, although I am leaning very heavily toward this luxury surf resort in Costa Rica I read about.  Basically it’s a little resort you go to for a week and learn to surf, except when you’re not surfing you can chill on the beach, go shopping, get massages, and just relax and enjoy the scenery.  So it’s basically like a tropical vacation designed around learning to surf.

Growing up in a non-coastal state it’s not like I really ever had the opportunity to go surfing.  I’ve seen people doing it on TV but that’s about it.  I have a few friends who have gone surfing and they said it’s tons of fun.  So I figure why not give it a try?  It will be like a combo of going on vacation and learning to do something that I’ve always wanted to do.

Then when people at work ask me “where was your last vacation?” I’ll actually have an awesome story to tell them other than “uh… I don’t really go on vacation that much.  Saving that PTO.”  Actually, I have used a bunch of my PTO at work but it was usually because I had something I needed to do at home or because I wanted to visit someone who lived far away, but neither of those really classifies as a “vacation.”  My company has a “user it or lose it” policy regarding PTO anyway, so I figured I need to use it for something.  It’s be silly to let paid time off expire.  I might as well just take a staycation and have a Star Trek marathon or something so at least I’m using it up!

A Rough Patch

A Rough Patch

Today is going to be one of those days where I just wish it was over with already. I got a DUI last week and I am finally going to sit down and deal with it. I have sort of been putting it off because I know it is going to be bad. My court date isn’t until the end of next month so I have some time to get my ducks in a row so to speak. What that means I don’t know yet but I plan on finding out today. I am still kicking myself for even getting charged with one in the first place. I was supposed to go out with my girlfriend Stacy instead but she got tied up at work and had to cancel our plans. I was just going to stay home and wait for her to get off but then my friend Rob texted me asking me if I wanted to go out. I should have said no and just stayed home but for some reason I went out. I wasn’t even drinking that much because I still planned on meeting up with Stacy when she got off work. I ended up hitting a sobriety checkpoint when I left and the rest as they say is history.

I guess the first thing I need to do is research DUI lawyers in Sarasota and retain the best one that I can afford. I have at least talked to a few people at work about my situation and they all told me I need to be represented in court. They said if I show up and represent myself the judge will definitely throw the book at me. This one guy Mark I work with told me a few years ago he got charged with one and his attorney was able to get his reduced to reckless driving.  I doubt that will happen in my case since I got pulled over at a sobriety checkpoint but we’ll see. It at least gave me some hope and I really need some of that right now. I am just imagining losing my license for however long and not being able to drive anywhere. I know I am not going to jail or anything like that but there are also the court fines and fees and maybe counseling. I also heard I might have to do community service hours which wouldn’t be good.

So, that happened.

Intelligent Advice

Intelligent Advice

I’ve been having a bit of an ongoing discussion with my cousin via email.  We’re talking about different ways to be smart with our money and that kind of thing.  This whole conversation got started because I told her that I had just gotten a new car (new to me; it’s a used car) and I was looking at the car insurance rates of different providers.  That comment kind of got us talking about various ways that we save money.  Here’s an excerpt from an email she sent me:

Sounds like you’re pretty good at managing finances…good for you. If I had a little more sense to be as careful as you were in my early 20s, I wouldn’t have spent the few years after that getting out of debt.

But if managing money consumes you, I agree that isn’t healthy. Life isn’t all about money right? I think as we will all one day lie on our death beds, the last thing we will think fondly of is how much money we have in the bank.

What you need to do is turn your skills at money management in your favor such that you wouldn’t need to worry so much about it. Have it work for you. Perhaps put portions of that away into more long term investments where your money earns you even more. If you just have that money sitting around in some savings acct, it’s just money sitting there waiting to be given to someone else.

Another method that could help is to plan a budget. Use a spreadsheet and just work out how your cash flow is month to month. Set aside some for retirement, some for bills, some for a rainy day, and don’t forget some for fun too. If you plan ahead this way, you may feel more secure in knowing you can freely spend $50 on that next meal without it meaning that you’ll suddenly go broke.

I know where you’re coming from, now as I’m running my own business, it freaks me out senseless when I don’t have “padding” in my bank accounts not knowing month to month how my revenue will be. You have to then realize that it’s not the money itself that is causing you to freak, but maybe the insecure feeling that there are things you can’t control. Perhaps just accept that feeling and have confidence that you can deal with anything that comes your way in the future WHEN it comes.

I posted that here because I think that’s pretty good and simple advice that can benefit many people.

It’s not that I want a ton of money just for the sake of having money or so I can buy a lot of stuff.  In fact, if I was loaded I would still probably live the same style of life I live now.  You wouldn’t even be able to tell I was rich.

Packing Up

Packing Up

I am moving at the end of next month and I have a lot to pack. Right now I’m living in a 2 bedroom apartment and it is stuffed to the gills with all my stuff. I thought about getting a storage unit but never got around to it. The good  news is my new place actually has a free one so I’ll be able to put a lot of things in there.

My friend Jackie lives in the complex I’m moving to so that will be nice. We aren’t best friends or anything but hang out a lot. It will just be nice to already know somebody there.

I got my order of shipping containers in today which means it is time to start packing.  I guess my parents are going to help me move but that isn’t official yet. My Dad said he would at least. My Mom never knows what she is doing until the last possible second but I’m sure she will help out too. I went out with her last night for dinner. We went to this new sushi restaurant downtown and it was great. I will definitely be going back there.

I am sort of a food nut and love eating out at new places. This coming weekend I’m going to this new Brazilian steakhouse with my friend Eric. He invited me because he knows I love going out and I of course accepted his offer. The nice thing about going out with him is he will pay even though we are just friends. He makes enough money that I don’t feel guilty about it either. He works for a brokerage firm downtown and drives a brand new Mercedes Benz. He gets a new one every year which must be nice. I feel a little embarrassed when we take my car as I drive a Hyundai Sonata. It is a nice car for me but it isn’t anything close to what he drives.

That is about all I have going on at the moment. I need to wrap this up soon so I can start packing. I dread it but I figure if I start now I won’t have to rush through it all. That is what happened last time I moved and it was a nightmare. I only had 2 days to get all my stuff together and told myself I would never go through that again.

Keeping My Resolution So Far

Keeping My Resolution So Far

As I mentioned before, I’d like to start running again.  As I get older I don’t want to be one of those people who always talks about how good of shape they used to be in, or one of those people who did used to be really active and healthy but slowly let it slide until they don’t even realize that it’s been years since they last worked out (you know, like when you put something off, and you’re like “I’ll just do it tomorrow” and then tomorrow comes and you don’t do it, and then it’s been a week, and then two weeks, and then you kinda forget about it).

I want to get in shape.  I want to start eating healthier.  I want to keep my figure under control.

These things are important to me.  I know a lot of people kind of let that stuff go and don’t realize it until it’s too late.  I don’t want to be one of those people.

So I’ll be running again and probably looking into some supplements as well.  I know the majority of results comes from exercise and diet, but supplements can help a bit too.  I’ll probably be looking for some protein shakes, multivitamins, and green coffee bean extract to give me a little boost.  Like I said, it’s not really that I’m that out of shape right now, it’s just that I don’t want to get any worse so I need to be proactive about the whole thing.

I may even start lifting weights again.  Running usually comprised about 95% of my exercise, but you never know.  I have a couple friends who are into lifting and I know if I start going to the gym with them, I’ll probably get into it, too.

Anyway, it’s mostly about getting to the point where exercise a habit; something I do on a regular basis rather than just something I do occasionally when I feel like I should.  So far this year I’ve already gone running twice.  Considering it’s the 12th, that’s approximately once every 6 days, but I’m trying to slowly ease back into it.  I’m going to increase that to two times per week starting next week (Monday and Thursday at first) and then hopefully go up to three times per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and just make that a part of my routine.  I’ll know I’m there when someone at work asks me about something on a Wednesday and I think “oh, that’s one of my running days.”

A Goal For The New Year

A Goal For The New Year

One of the things I’d like to maybe venture out into this year is the area of property investing.  Here’s how it works, at least conceptually: you buy a house (or apartment, condo, etc.) and you are the owner, but you rent it out to someone else who lives there and pays rent to you.  Now if you do it correctly, you get paid more in rent than you pay in mortgage for it.  For example, maybe you buy a condo and your monthly payment including taxes and everything is $800/month.  If you are able to rent it to someone for $1,200/mo, that basically means you are making $400 per month.

Of course there are more factors that come into play in real life, but that is the gist of it.

While it sounds like a good deal, there are some potential issues that can come into play.  First, as the owner of the property, you are responsible for any repairs and maintenance.  So that’s a potential expense.  Second, it’s possible you won’t be able to find a tenant.  Using the numbers from the above example, instead of making $400 per month, if you are unable to find a tenant you will be losing $800 per month (the amount you pay to the mortgage).  There are also the matters of insurance, and laws you have to be aware of regarding the tenant.

Having an investment property also means your taxes will change.  Certain expenses may be deductible, and the rent that you get paid will be considered income.  I recommend getting help from a property accountant if you are thinking about buying an investment property.

Of course, choosing a property requires doing a lot of research.  It has to meet your needs, be within your budget, be in a neighborhood in which you are comfortable, etc.  Just like with the house you choose for yourself, you can’t just go buy the first one you see.  Remember that you’ll need to find a tenant who wants to live there, so if the place is a dump you probably won’t have many applicants.

While I’m talking about it, the whole area of passive income is interesting to me.  All of my income comes from my job where I work like any other person.  I would like to get some stuff set up so that I can make money from other sources while I’m at my job.  Even if it’s just a little extra spending money, that would be cool.  And if it grows into something bigger, that’s even better.

Back in the Habit

Back in the Habit

Five more days until the new year!  Now, I’m usually not the kind to make new years resolutions, but I think I’m going to have to this year.  I’ve been kind of letting myself go over the last year in terms of fitness.  I used to run pretty consistently; I’m talking like 3 or 4 times per week.  I would lift weights occasionally, but mostly I was a runner.  But I’ve been kind of slacking off over the last 6 months or so, and not only do I miss it, but I can also tell when I look at myself in the mirror, and I also feel different.  You know all those people who say that exercise makes you feel good?  They’re right.  You notice it when you’re exercising, and you start to notice when it’s not there the first few workouts you miss, but then you kind of stop noticing it as your body gets used to not working out again.  But then after a few months, you start to notice it again.  That feeling.  It comes out of nowhere and hits you and you realize “I need to start working out again.”

This blog is the only place I’m going to even mention this, though.  I recently read a study that suggested that the more people you tell about your goals, the less likely you are to actually succeed at them.  They said it has to do with the way your brain works.  Basically, telling someone you’re going to do something activates the same areas of your brain as actually doing it.  So let’s say you wanted to study Chinese, and you tell your friends “hey, I’m going to learn Chinese!”  Your friends might all be like “whoa, cool!”  And you feel good.  And you’re less likely to actually learn Chinese.

I know it kind of sounds weird, but the results of the study showed that people who didn’t tell people about their goals were more successful in achieving them.  And I’m not one to argue with data!

So other than mentioning it here, I’m not going to tell anyone or make a big deal out of it.  I’m just going to start doing it again.  I want to run because it’s something I want to do, and I don’t really care what other people think about it, anyway.  I actually think I might start a day or two early.  I found some trainers on sale last week and have all my stuff and there’s really no reason I couldn’t just get started tomorrow.  It’s not like I need to wait until New Year’s Day or anything.

Guns and Stuff

Guns and Stuff

I’ve been seeing a lot about gun laws in the news recently.  Just a few days ago, Illinois ruled that the courts banning the right to carry arms is “unconstitutional,” and they are going to be drafting new laws to permit people to carry firearms.  I know that has been a hot topic recently in Illinois, too, who had strict gun laws, and I think handguns were illegal in Chicago: something which was done to try and prevent crime.  The main opposition to that was, “if guns are illegal, why do criminals still have them?”  Opponents said that banning handguns meant that the criminals were the only people who would be armed, and people wouldn’t be able to defend themselves.

It’s actually a valid point.

All of this controversy recently has made me realize that I don’t really know anything about guns.  I mean, I’ve used Super Soakers, played Laser Tag, and used paintball guns, but I’ve never actually used a real one.

I seem to recall hearing that states with more liberal firearm laws had less crime.  I think that pro-gun people would use that as a reason why the laws don’t work.  I suppose if there’s a chance that everyone might be armed, you might be less likely to try and attack someone, right?

I wonder if this will change the number of people who own guns, though.  Hopefully people will be responsible about it.  I’m all for the right to bear arms (provided people go through a background check), but don’t just leave them laying about.   Keep your gun in a handgun safe so nothing bad happens.

Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go take a firearms class somewhere.  Not that I necessarily plan on carrying a firearm around, but it would still probably be a good idea to learn how to use one.  I’m kind of already interested in them… I’ve watched every season of that show “Top Shot” on History Channel.  I don’t know a single thing about any of the guns they’re talking about, but I really like watching that show regardless.

I don’t even know how much they cost.  Although another guilty pleasure of mine is “Pawn Stars” (also on history channel) and I’ve seen some guns go for quite a high price on that show, but I think that’s because they’re rare or historic models.  Actually, now that I think about it, I think the guy who runs the shop said they can’t even buy any firearms made after 1895 or something, so I guess they’re only antiques and not representative of what current models would cost.

Romney’s Angry Bird

Romney’s Angry Bird

Watching the debate last night between Obama and Romney was quite an event; not only was I watching it on TV, but I also was simultaneously browsing some threads on a few of my favorite internet forums, and receiving a bunch of tweets on my phone from people who were also watching the debates.

The forums are hilarious.  The presidential debate threads go so fast, too.  Within the first 20 minutes it was already on page 15.  Any time either candidate said anything, supporters from the opposite side were quick to jump in with massive sarcastic flaming.  I know some of the comments were only half-serious, but sometimes they make me laugh.  People love to call out the candidates on their lies (or what they think are lies), or talk about how a plan that sounds good on the surface is actually just a cover for a terrible idea.

I don’t really participate in those threads; I just read them for the most part.  It’s comedy.

I’m not gonna lie, though.  I started to get bored a bit into the debate and since I already had my phone out for all the tweets (Twitter blows up during presidential debates!), or maybe it was subconscious from knowing that Mitt Romney hates Big Bird, but I figured I would play some Angry Birds and just passively listen to the debate, pausing to watch if they said anything that really piqued my interest.  I just recently downloaded another version of that game called Angry Birds Seasons that is significantly harder than the original.  I made it through most of the levels in the original one within a few weeks, but I’m still stuck on the first set of levels of this.  Seriously, I downloaded it a few weeks ago and I’m still in the “Moon Festival” levels.  I don’t know why this one is so hard but it is.  The original one had a frustrating level every now and again that took like 20 or 30 tries to beat it… you know, like the levels where you have to get the bird exactly in the right spot and it just takes a bunch of tries to do it.  Those are fine every so often.  But the Seasons version is like that all the time, and some of the levels I feel like they don’t even give you enough birds to complete it (which basically means I don’t know where I’m supposed to put them).  It’s bordering on too frustrating to play, and I’m trying to resist the urge to watch videos online of how to beat the levels.  Although probably not for much longer :)