Becoming A Hobbyist

When it comes to photography, I know almost nothing.  Many of my friends are really into it and have these fancy hi tech cameras, but not me.  The only camera I have More »

Nice Place

There are a few places I want to visit and I think I’m going to do my decision process out lout here in this post.  There are also a people I want More »

Looking For A New Car

I’ve been thinking that I might want to look for a new car.  It’s not that I necessarily need one, but I kind of want one.  My car is great and everything More »

Learning To Surf Huge Waves (Or Small Ones)

I am a fan of roller blading.  Some people think that’s weird because it’s not really that popular but I enjoy it.  I’ve got a few pairs of blades and I like More »

Upgrading Our Home

My wife and I have decided it is time for us to move on from our starter house that we bought four years ago. We have slowly but surely outgrowing it and More »

Becoming A Hobbyist

When it comes to photography, I know almost nothing.  Many of my friends are really into it and have these fancy hi tech cameras, but not me.  The only camera I have is the one on my cell phone.  Anyway, I was talking to my friends the other day and they said that I would probably enjoy photography as a hobby if I were to get into it, but there are so many different camera options out there that I wouldn’t even know where to start.  There is Cannon, Motorola, Nikon, Samsung, and Sanyo, and those are just a few.  And then you’ve got to figure out what kind of camera you want, what kind of pictures you are going to be taking, what different equipment you need, etc.  When taking a picture I guess all that stuff matters, at least that’s what I’ve been told.  So upon checking out some reviews I found the Nikon D7100 which seems decent but I’m really not sure to be honest what separates it from all the other ones because they all seem pretty similar.  My friends were telling me to start with a decent beginner camera but didn’t say anything other than that.  It would probably be helpful to go to the store and see what they have and maybe there is someone there who can teach me the stuff that I need to know so I can choose the right camera.

And then I have to figure out what I am going to be taking pictures of, so I guess I should figure that out.  Naturally it seems like I would want to be able to take pictures of anything, like people, or buildings, but I guess you need different kinds of lenses for different objects and that’s just more than I really know about.  So when I am doing my research I am going to see if I can learn anything about that, too.

And then there’s the issue of using regular film or taking digi pictures.  It seems like most people are using dig pics but I don’t really know what I would base that off of other than the fact that most of the cameras I’ve looked at had a view screen that would show you the picture right after you took it which really sounds like it’s not using actual film to me.  So that’s probably what I will look at although I’m not even sure if there would be different options in that type of choice, either.

Nice Place

There are a few places I want to visit and I think I’m going to do my decision process out lout here in this post.  There are also a people I want to visit so I’m gonna try and see if I can get those two events to happen together.  The first place I’ve been thinking about going is Miami.  I know, you’re probably thinking do I really want to go to Miami?  It’s warm and humid and you all know that I don’t like that kind of stuff.  But, when I see it on TV it always looks like such a cool place that I think I’m finally going to brave the heat and check it out for myself.  Also, my best friend from college lives there so I think I’m going to try and visit him when I go.  I can’t believe that I am actually thinking about going there, so I’m going to say this one is near the top right now.

The other place I have been thinking about going is to Oregon.  I know, people are probably like why do you want to go there?  What is in Oregon?  I have a few friends who live up there and I also like that area of the country.  I have been over to the west coast and I had a good time, and I mostly just want to go visit my friends.  I’m sure that they’ll be able to tell me what I should do when I’m up there, but it’s not like when I think about going there I think about specific things that I want to do.

Regardless of where I go, I am going to use my hotel gift cards that I have been getting.  I was given them as a present by my mother and she said that when I take my next trip I should use them so I’m gonna bring them with me.  The only thing is that I don’t really want to crash at my friends’ place the entire time.  I know that you can do that and I’m sure my friends wouldn’t mind having me, but I don’t want to be bothering them and I’m probably going to stay there for a while and I know that having someone at your place for a long time can start to get a bit uncomfortable, even if you’re good friends.  So I’ll just stay at a hotel and then meet up with my friends for whatever we decide to do.  Plus, hotel beds are usually a bit more comfortable than sleeping on your friend’s couches, so that’s another reason I’d rather just stay there.  And I can also get up when I wake up and I won’t be making noise or anything that will disturb my friend.  I don’t think that’s strange.

Looking For A New Car

I’ve been thinking that I might want to look for a new car.  It’s not that I necessarily need one, but I kind of want one.  My car is great and everything but I’m looking for something that has a little bit more significance about it.  My car is awesome, and I think I’m going to keep it but I’d like to see if I can get a lease on something else and see how I like it.  There is a Mercedes C Class lease that I’ve been thinking about looking into, and I’m not sure what those cars are all about but I’ll be able to find that out with a little bit of research.  I’ve been looking for a new car ever since I saw this one in the parking lot and I thought it would be pretty fun to drive.  I mean, there’s nothing wrong with my car, but it’s one of those things that would be something to do.  I don’t need an expensive car to have it as a status symbol or anything.  I really don’t even care, it’s just something I want to do for me.  And I’m not one of those people who really judges themselves or others by the kind of car they have or anything like that.  In fact, that’s something that kind of bugs me.  I just think it would be sweet o have a sports car or something and that’s that.

I have room in my current car’s trunk for some big boxes now that I just cleaned it out.  I am the kind of person who will let things be sitting there in his car until I finally realize that I need to clean it.  I had boxes from these things that I bought a while ago in the trunk, and I also had a bunch of towels and stuff.  I took all of that out and I probably can actually go to the store now and get some of the things that I need without having to wonder if they will fit or not.  I’m not sloppy, I just don’t clean my car as often as I should.  And I keep the inside clean, it’s just the trunk where everything seems to get put.  I think that I am going to see if I can find some way to stop doing that, actually, because if I have something that I need to put in the trunk and it is all messy then I can’t get it in there and I have to try and cram it in the inside of the car and that’s no fun.  So maybe I’m going to try and stop doing that.  I also want to see if I can replace the carpet that is in there since I accidentally seem to have moved it out of place and I can’t get it back.  I was pulling this big box out and it got caught on something and now it’s like all messed around and doesn’t look the way it used to.  I’m probably the only person who even cares about that, but I want to get it back the way where it fits.

Learning To Surf Huge Waves (Or Small Ones)

I am a fan of roller blading.  Some people think that’s weird because it’s not really that popular but I enjoy it.  I’ve got a few pairs of blades and I like to blade around the neighborhood.  I’ll see people looking at me but I don’t really get bothered by it because at least I’m doing something that I find enjoyable.  I also like doing tricks and stuff but I’m not really that good.  I can do some jumps but that’s about it.  I have seen that there are a few ramps and stuff around here and I will check them out when I am feeling active and adventurous but usually I just stay around town on normal roads.  The other thing that I have been wanting to try is surf lessons.  Unlike with blading, surfing doesn’t seem like something that you can just buy the stuff yourself and then go to it.  Well, maybe, but I wouldn’t want to do it that way.  Then again, I learned to skate when I was with some people who were already going skating so maybe I did kind of learn from people.  But when it comes to riding waves I think I would prefer to have a teaching atmosphere.

So the thing I have to decide is where I want to learn.  There are a few places I have seen around here and there is also a surf camp Costa Rica that I found that looked pretty nice.  The thing I need to find out, though, is what you need to do to prepare.  Maybe you just show up with yourself or maybe you need to do something beforehand.  That can probably be answered with an email so it’s going to also be a way to see how the customer service is.  Another thing I want to see is if I can check out a few of the places before I decide.  Obviously most of them have websites but I still think that looking online can give you some good insight into what kind of experience they have.  The place that I choose will probably be the one that I think looks the best so I’m going to start looking at some of the ones I’ve seen.  After that it’s going to just be a matter of getting out there and learning to catch some gnarly waves!  Well, there’s probably other stuff involved, but that’s the general concept.

Upgrading Our Home

My wife and I have decided it is time for us to move on from our starter house that we bought four years ago. We have slowly but surely outgrowing it and now with another kid on its way it is definitely time to move. We knew this day would come eventually and now that it is here we both have mixed emotions about it. On one hand it will be great to have a bigger house with more room. On the other hand we are going to miss this place immensely. We put a lot of work into it and it shows. If you saw what it looked like when we bought it compared to what it looks like now you would no doubt be impressed. The good thing is that will be nice when we sell it as there is no doubt we will make out on it. We are going to meet with a realtor next week to talk about all of that.

In the meanwhile we have already been looking for our new home. My wife has already found a handful of them that she is interested in. She uses a site like this to search for Charleston homes for sale. I have yet to look myself but I plan on doing that next week too. I have plenty of vacation time left this year so I took next week off to focus on this. My wife works from home and has a lot of free time during the day because of that so we’re going to have plenty of time to sort this all out.

My main sticking point for where we go is location. I have a rather lengthy commute right now and want to slim that down as much as possible. I spend about forty-five minutes on the road in the morning and closer to an hour driving home. That is just too much especially with how much gas costs these days. I want something under thirty minutes both ways preferably even less than that. The other thing I want is a finished basement. I want to make a man-cave down there where I can watch sports and play some pool. I have a pool table now that I bought from my Uncle but have no room for it here. It has been locked up in our storage locker since I bought it last year.

Out With The Old

Work has been very crazy lately. We are moving from a tiny, cramped shop into a large building with a massive parts and service area. Part of the process of moving is getting our department organized. For lack of a better phrase, our store has been chaos for the past few years. It’s not necessarily that we are that disorganized…but it’s the fact that we’ve so outgrown our current facility that we’re out of space. You can’t organize when your parts room is literally overflowing with parts.

This is problem that we’ve known we needed to address, but are just now in a position to finally do something about it. First on our agenda after the new building is built: we are going to get an entire new shelving system and we are going to be organizing our workspace with new plastic bins and storage containers. The ones we have now are cardboard and they’re pretty much all old and falling apart. The new, improved storage system will help us sort our parts department the way that we’ve wanted to sort it, but simply haven’t had the opportunity.

We have actually came up with a color-coded system using the new bins and it should be pretty easy to follow. We’re keeping normally stocked parts in small blue bins, organized by make and model. We’re building a shelf for customer special orders, where we’ll have bins with dry erase tags. Lastly, we’ll have a big shelf of yellow bins that have parts that our mechanics have ordered. I’m sure that system will change once we go to implement it, but it sounds so much better than what we’re currently working with…which is a messy mass of white cardboard bins with ten year old tags written in permanent marker.

I have seen the difference that organization makes first-hand through other jobs in my past, and think this will do wonders to help our productivity. Organization saves money, it saves time, and it can even keep employees in better moods if they are able to find what they’re looking for without wasting ten minutes every time they wander into the parts room. I know it’s going to be quite a challenge to get everyone to adapt to the new system. A lot of people have a tendency to get ‘stuck’ using the old system, unwilling to change, but I think once people see how much more efficient this is, they’ll be eager to switch.

On To Bigger And Better

My shop’s expanded recently and I’ve started taking on bigger projects. I don’t mean bigger as in long-term, I mean bigger as in massive pieces of equipment. We’ve been in the construction repair industry for thirty years but never anything too crazy. About the biggest things we worked on were scissor lifts and small steel-tracked dozers. Apparently, word has gotten out about our shop, though, and we’re getting pretty popular. In fact, we’re really popular now. Our business has grown around 30% in the past two years.

Most of our new business happens to consist of new equipment, too. People are bringing in monster aerial platform lifts and bigger dozers and trucks in for repair and we really don’t have the tools or the space to repair this stuff. Seeing that this was going to be a problem, I started putting some money back for new supplies about six months ago. I can’t expect any of our individual mechanics to buy some of the things on my list so I’m investing in a community toolbox with the larger tools that will be rarely used.

For example, I’ve decided that the manual torque wrenches we own no longer cut it. Some of these boom lifts that we’re working on go 120+ feet in the air and the turntables are installed using gigantic bolts that need torqued way tighter than anything we’ve had in the shop before. If I get some hydraulic torque wrenches like these, one of my mechanics can simply put the wrench on a bolt and hit a button, instead of almost killing himself trying to torque a bolt with a huge wrench with a giant extension on it.

Of course, like I said. There are two problems… first, we don’t have the equipment to work on the bigger pieces of equipment we’re getting in…second, we don’t have the space. That’s why I plan on putting all of our profits back for the next year or so and building a new addition. I’ll need at least two new mechanics and I need to build a huge new service bay. Of course, that day is still a long way away. In fact, I haven’t even had a meeting with the architects yet but I do know that I should have around half of the capital to do what I want as of right now. All I know is that business is booming and I don’t see an end in sight.

Let Me Talk Nerdy To You

As a person who’s been a techie / a dork / a nerd / whatever you want to call me since the beginning of the internet age, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been just a little bit more caution than most when it comes to sharing information on the internet. Of course, by sharing information, I don’t mean posting a status on a social media site or talking about something on a forum. When I say “sharing information” I mean “leaving my internet connection visible and accessible to pretty much anyone.”

Back in the days of low-speed dial-up internet, most connections were safe. Most people had one computer that could only connect to the internet when a person wanted to tie up their phone line. Wireless networking didn’t exist, and most people couldn’t even tell you what a Cat5 cable was. People that stole information back then had to write programs and viruses that could attack a person’s computer and steal information, but it was so much harder to do and it usually involved tricking a user into downloading a program with an embedded virus.

Now, most computers are connected through high-speed internet, wireless networks, and even cellular connections. People can now use their computers in restaurants, coffee shops, schools, at home, or even at work using wired and wireless networks. Accessing the internet is easier than ever before, but doing shady stuff with people’s personal information is easier than ever before as well. Now, someone can simply be on the same network as another user and snoop around, stealing personal information and putting his or her nose where it doesn’t belong. A person can steal information such as credit card numbers, logins, passwords, and even keep track of what websites you’re going to and what you’re doing online by simply monitoring your internet connection. That’s a little creepy if you ask me, but there are ways to prevent that from happening.

Personally, I like preventative maintenance a lot more than trying to fix things after they’re already broken. That means that I like to fix problems before they even become problems. One of the things I’ve been doing for a long time is connecting to the internet through a VPN. What is a VPN? A VPN is a ‘Virtual Private Network.’ Instead of connecting directly to the internet, I connect to the internet through a VPN, which adds a middle man and makes it much harder for someone to steal my information. Connecting to that VPN requires a username and password, and all of the data sent to and from the internet via the VPN is encrypted so that no one can see what you’re doing online.

That Investing Thing

About a year ago, my grandfather passed away and left me a modest inheritance. I’ve been hanging on it, trying to figure out what to do with it. Personally, I think it’s enough money that I want to learn how to invest it instead of just blowing it on something dumb with it. I guess I should say that it’s enough money that I feel I can have a decent return, but since it’s money I didn’t expect, I have a little room to play with it and to learn from it. I’m pretty young and have a lifetime of opportunity to stash some cash, but if I can learn how the markets work now, then I can use that to my advantage all throughout the rest of my life.

While I have a lot to learn, I’ve taken an interest in Forex trading, specifically binary options after reading about them on this site. Binary options interest me because there is a bit of skill and a bit of risk involved, but the payouts are much higher. Basically, instead of directly investing in a specific currency, you watch the market and learn patterns / trends. You watch the market and if you believe that at a specific date and time, a certain currency will follow a specific trend, and then you invest. For example, if I believe that EUR will be worth a certain amount at the end of the day today, then I buy a $100 option that the EUR will be worth xxx at 5:00PM EST. If it hits, I will get a preset amount of money back (sometimes as much as 10x higher). If it doesn’t hit that benchmark, then I lose my entire investment.

As I said, trading with Binary options carries a certain level of risk but for a person who watches the markets closely, more money can be made in a shorter period of time. Sometimes a person can invest thousands of dollars over the course of years to see a return that barely keeps up with inflation if he invests in the traditional Forex market. A person who tries the binary option can see a 100%-1000% rate of return in as little as a day, but on the same token, a guy can lose that much in a day as well. Forex trading using binary options is interesting to me solely because of the possibility to win big, which is why I’m definitely interested in learning more about it.

It’s That Time

I have had my current car for over 6 years and am ready to trade it in. I know I won’t get much for it but it needs to go. I’m afraid that it is going to leave me stranded on the side of the highway in the near future with how it has been acting. I am no mechanic nor do I really care to take it to one but I think the transmission is going out on it. It has almost 150,000 miles on it so it is getting up there.  That’s pretty good.  I’m not one of those people who buys a new car every few years.  Of course, that’s because I couldn’t really afford to do that, but still!

My main concern with getting a new car is I’m not sure if I’m going to qualify for any decent financing. I took a look at my credit report last night and it isn’t pretty. I got into some credit card debt a few years back that got me into trouble with some collection agencies. I guess I’ll just go and see what happens because it isn’t like I can afford to pay in cash.

I will be looking at used cars of course and in the 10k range.  I need to make sure I can get some cheap car insurance in Lakeland, too, because I don’t want to spend any more than I have to.  I would like to be able to afford something a little more expensive but that’s not going to happen. I think I can still find some decent vehicles for that much. I was looking around online this morning and the best one I saw was a 2007 VW Jetta. It is black which I like and has a sunroof which I’ve never had before. It is a stick shift which I’m not too crazy about but it only has 41,000 miles on it and they are only asking $10,500 for it.  I think between my trade in and bargaining with them I could get that down closer to 9k.  I’m going to call up my friend Adam to see if he wants to go with me to look at it tomorrow morning.  It’s a good idea to bring a friend with you when you look at cars because you can get a second opinion.  Plus, Adam knows a bit about cars so he’ll be informed.  He can also keep from being talked into something I may not want.