Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Have a Problem

I have a problem with board games.   With a closet full of a game collection I still find myself reading about and discovering new games every week.  Very often I'm reading about a game and say, "Oh!  That would be a fun game."  I start searching out YouTube reviews of the game and reading the companies website.   Before you know it FedEx is delivering a box to the house.

There are games in the closet that rarely see the light of day.   Some are really good games that have been pushed aside to make room for the newer games looking for a spot on the shelf.   Some probably just need to be sold at a garage sale.

I didn't realize I had a problem until my mom mentioned how full the closet was when she was here last week and was choosing a game to play.  Fifteen minutes prior to that I was reading about a new game I want to buy (and probably will).

Friday, July 26, 2013

What's for Lunch?

Last weekend my daughters offered to make me lunch.  They put together a menu and gave me some options.

You can see by the purple X marks that I went with stale chips from last night with any left over we have.   They were right, the chips were stale.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Great Wolf Lodge visit #1

Are you looking for a great way to wear the kids adults in your family out?  I think I found a great way to do it.   Spend the night (and two days) at the Great Wolf Lodge near Charlotte, NC.  This indoor water park has enough to keep you busy and wear everyone out in just a few hours.  Then head up to your room for a short sleep before heading back down to the waterpark shortly after breakfast.
Sound tiring?  It is.  But it is a lot of fun.

I was warned before heading up to bring my wallet.  Once I was there I understood why that warning was given but it is also an easy enough problem to avoid.   Food at the hotel is extreme.  Two quick examples.  1.  dinner buffet = $20 per adult.    2.  One large pizza, some bread sticks, and a two liter = $30.   The mall is across the street and there are a ton of restaurants to choose from where you can eat for a fraction of the cost.  So if you want to avoid the cost at the hotel you can do it.
The other part that seems to suck the money out of your wallet is the in-hotel shops and the "bonus" packages you can purchase.  We easily avoided all of these traps as well.
There is a lot to choose from as you spend your days in the lodge but we focused mainly on the water park areas and had no problem staying entertained.
There are several nearly half a dozen water slides to try, a wave pool, a kids area (which my teen thoroughly enjoyed), and a "fort" area where a bucket dumps 1,000 gallons on you.   That's just the inside stuff.
I hadn't previously heard of Great Wolf Lodge but the 8th grade class took a trip up there at the end of last year and my son said it was awesome.  He told his sisters how awesome it was as well and we decided we should check it out.   The girls loved it.   It was a great weekend trip that wasn't far from home.

The one thing I found odd here was the life guards.  There are plenty of them!  The odd part is how they monitor the stations.  First of all, the life guards can't be bothered with anything other than watching the water.  Don't try to talk to them.  They will ignore you and wave a supervisor over.   But it's the way they watch the water.  They can't stand in one place and scan the crowd.  They must pace their area and use exaggerated head movements to scan the water.  No peripheral vision allowed!

Being an inside park, this could be a great place to visit during a winter break.  They keep the water and air temperature in the 80's in there and I never felt cold.   I guess if we're going to be visiting again I better start saving now.

Monday, July 22, 2013

YouTube of the Week!

I recently re-discovered these videos by RSA.   They take interesting talks on a variety of topics and present them in an interesting way with animations of the talk.

I had a hard time choosing one to post here.  Different people will find different topics interesting but here is a sample:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Genius in Retailing

One of the main reasons we were in Charlotte last week was to visit Ikea.  Apparently this is the place to go if you like to shop.  Cari was a like a kid on Christmas Eve the day before we went.  I didn't really know much about Ikea other than it is a furniture store.

What I found when I got there was genius in retailing.  Ikea in Charlotte is a two story building.  When you go in you are greeted with large posters and maps of the store showing you how the place works.   We took the escalator upstairs to the showroom.  

The furniture is setup in complete rooms.  The rooms are fully decorated floor to ceiling and every bit of it is for sale.  You can go into these display rooms and get a sense for what the pieces may look like in your room.  You can sit on the couches and chairs, sit at the tables, and open all the kitchen cabinets.  

There are also a few areas that list as full apartments.  One was approximately 550 sq ft and showed the living room, bath room, kitchen, and bed room.   All linked together and fully furnished.  

You continue your journey through dozens of display areas becoming inspired to update your own home. 
Mixed in some of the display areas are areas showing off more options.  There was one for offices where you can choose lamps, chairs, desks, etc...   

Before you go downstairs you walk passed the Ikea restaurant.  Swedish meatballs seemed to be the most popular thing to try.  As well as anything you could make with Lingonberry.

Downstairs are the departments with all the items that you have been wanting since you saw them in the showroom.  This is where you start loading up the cart.   The next section is a large warhouse area that holds all of the boxes to the furniture you want to buy.  

Finally, after you checkout, but before you leave there is one more chance to buy the Swedish meatballs and Ligonberry products.

Everything about Ikea was well organized and I think they have some retailing ideas that will be catching on as time goes on.  As I walked through the showroom and sat on the couches I kept seeing this room in my house.  It really was inspirational and encourages you to think about your furniture.  

The first thing we did when we got home was started re-organizing our room.   That, and putting together the Ikea furniture we purchased.   


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bryant Park

On our way into Charlotte it was raining.  Just like it has been raining at home day after day after day.   We rounded the corner and found the road blocked by water rushing over it.  At the place where we were there was one parking lot to turn around in and we noticed that it was a park.  We got out to take a look.  There was a lady looking at the lake at the park and she told us that it is a baseball field.
 Notice the garbage can near the fence in the above picture.

Nearly 24 hours later we were heading home and decided to take the same route to check out the park.
Here's what we found:
That was a lot of water to move!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Cari and I took a trip together to check out the sites in Charlotte, NC.  This has been on our list of places to visit for a while but we hadn't found the chance to do it until now.  

The city was interesting to walk around in.  There is some great architecture to see and some interesting sculptures and history around the city.

There are also several small parks located throughout downtown.  
What we didn't find in downtown was retail.   We expected to see more shops on the street level of these buildings but never found any.

Even without the retail shops to take our money we still had a great time walking the city.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mud Daubers

I have often seen the little mud nests around my storage building but I never knew exactly what was instide.  Often I wouldn't discover them until they were already empty.  

This spring I found some that were fully loaded and broke one open to explore the mud chambers.  Doing so creeped me out!

These are the creations of the Mud Dauber - a type of wasp.  They lay their eggs and fill the rest of the chamber with spiders.  The larva wiggle around their little mud home eating a feast of spiders while they become little wasps.

 Cracking open the mud to find a tightly packed wad of spiders is the creepy part for me.  I wanted no part in touching or being near the thing once I discovered that.   But I did learn about Mud Daubers.
I also read that Mud Daubers are not often aggressive toward humans.  I guess I'm too big to shove into one of the mud nests.  I'm so thankful for that.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tiny Planet

Sometimes it feels like we live on a tiny planet.

This is a great effect that I have recently been able to do on my phone and I am totally loving the results that you can get.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Toilet is in the Tub

One of our summer home improvement projects was to tear out the old vinyl floor in the bathroom and install some ceramic tile.

I'm fully on board with this project but I'll admit this one was more Cari's than mine.  I guess that's why I wasn't super motivated to get started.  Cari solved my sluggishness by removing all of the old flooring on Friday while I was at work.   When I got home and saw her work I thought Saturday morning would be a great time to start installing the tile.  Cari was glad I became motivated to work with her!

Once the toilet was pulled up and placed in the bathtub it was time to get serious on finishing the floor.  There was no turning back now!

After only ONE trip to Lowe's to cut tile we had a new bathroom floor.   Cari suggested the pattern and I think it looks great!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Giant Phone Thoughts

I've been carrying my big phone for more than a month.

My thoughts:  It's incredible.  This phone does anything I need it to do.

Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a large phone but it is NOT too large. I have not had any moments that I regretted buying this phone.  It fits in my pocket and isn't too heavy to hold in my hand.   I've been using it to read e-books and it is a good size to hold for that.

One of the biggest complaints about smart phones is short battery life.  People are constantly monitoring their batteries.   Not me.  The benefit of a big phone is a big battery fits inside of it.  My phone comes off the charger everyday around 6am and goes back around 10pm and it's only gone "yellow" twice.

One of the unique things about this phone is the s-pen (stylus).  Initially it's one of those things I didn't use a lot but as the weeks go by I have found apps and situations to use it.  It's a feature I wouldn't want to give up now.

Some of the most used apps on my giant phone:

Pocket Casts (podcast)
Google Play Books (e-books)
S-Note  (hand written notes)
Google Maps (GPS)

This is by far the most capable phone I have ever had and if you were thinking about getting one I highly recommend it.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Reunion

Over the weekend some classmates picked up the pace on Facebook to start talking about a high school class reunion next year.  It's great that some people love these events and put the effort into making them happen but I'm not a fan of high school reunions.

I can see the value in them if you are someone that graduated in the 50's or 60's.  Your 20th reunion happened before the internet.   But it's different now.  If you are interested in what I'm doing or where I live you could already find that information on Facebook.  An overpriced dinner being held several states away isn't required to catch up anymore.  The opportunity to reach out to someone is there nearly everyday in the majority of cases.

I don't keep in touch with many people that I graduated with and they don't make any efforts to interact with me.  Sure, we "friended" each other shortly after joining Facebook, but in the following years we didn't even "like" each others posts.  Suddenly you care if I attend the event?  

But wait!  You're thinking I should go to the reunion for the people that aren't on Facebook.  There are two issues there.  First, we're trying to get anyone we can think of to join Facebook to learn about the reunion.  After they join, I'll contact them and catch up one on one.  Second, if they don't join Facebook, I'm putting pretty low chances on them coming to the event anyway.

Obviously I'm not a fan of high school reunions but I acknowledge that they are probably good events for some people.  For those people, I hope you have a great time.  If you want to find out what I've been up to since high school just send me an email.