Look at this

From the time I got my car it has been great but I have been noticing some problems with it that I might want to get checked out. I know there have been some things that I have noticed that I think are supposed to be there however it has started doing something recently and

A cool place

Looking at some of the plans we have made it seems like we have been doing a lot of stuff.  One of the places I Have been wanting to go is a ski resort where I can really get in a lot of skiing.  There are a few places like that I would like to

Complete Internet

It seems there are quite a few websites out there that let you set up your vacation plans all from a single site.  You can find the hotel where you want to stay, your car, and everything else all from the same page.  That seems pretty useful, I think, and I know of a few

Something A Little Bit More Stylish

I am trying to learn more about how to decorate my home so that it looks a bit more modern.  There are a bunch of shows on television that I watch where they show like before and after home styles and I usually really like the changes they made but that’s not something that I

A Little Overtraining

Man having joint pain sucks.  I’m not sure what is going on but my knee has been hurting for a while.  It started the other day when I got back from a run and I noticed that it was feeling a bit sore when I would walk on it.  It doesn’t hurt when I was

Look at this

From the time I got my car it has been great but I have been noticing some problems with it that I might want to get checked out. I know there have been some things that I have noticed that I think are supposed to be there however it has started doing something recently and I don’t think it’s supposed to do it.

So basically I was going to take it to a BMW repair business around here and see if they can figure out what is going on. I really don’t want there to be issues but I figure I should have them see before I do much else with it. It is a nice car. It has a sunroof and has a good interior light system. I think that a lot of the things I find cool about cars have to do with how they make me talk about them. That doesn’t make sense possibly but I really like telling people things about my car. I’m not even a car person. But you know how when you are really into something you just want to talk about it. That’s me with my car.

I also really like the way the controls are easy to operate and it has a horn button although I never use it. But really I mean the colors are nice and the windows are good and I think that the seats are comfortable. The trunk opens easily and if I have to put something in the glove box I can get in there, too. And the other thing I like about my car is that the time is easy to read. I think also that the gauges are pretty. That probably sounds unusual but there are some cars where I actually don’t like them. That is why when I am looking in my car I see them and realize that they are really amazing. The wipers work really well and don’t skid. It doesn’t rain here much but you know. The air vents are easy to adjust too which means that if I need to get some cold air I can aim it wherever I want which is nice because things like that are important to me. I think that by being able to do that I can keep ti nice while I am driving. And then you know I can aim it at me if I am hot or whatever but essentially I just try to keep a great temperature.

A cool place

Looking at some of the plans we have made it seems like we have been doing a lot of stuff.  One of the places I Have been wanting to go is a ski resort where I can really get in a lot of skiing.  There are a few places like that I would like to go and I think that having learned about them I would like to go to breckenridge.  The reason is because most of what I have read says that it’s a pretty good place and there are a lot of places you can ride the slopes.  But really, I just want to check it out.

So part of the reason I want to go is this guy I know was talking about how he went and he had a good series of runs there and it sounded like the kind of thing I would enjoy.  I like skiing of course and that is something that I think would be entertaining when I get the urge to practice.

My friend was saying that there are few other places he likes to go but of those I think I would go there.  There are a few other things you can do there and part of the reason I want to go is because there’s a Breckenridge shuttle there that will get you over to eh lodge.  And then that means that you can basically just do what you need to and have it set up in a way that makes things ease of transport.

Of all the things that I enjoy about skiing I think the best part is that you can do different types of skiing depending on where you are.  So like, there are courses where you can go fast, or just go through different kinds of turns and stuff.  It’s kind of like it depends on what you feel like doing and that will determine ho w you do it.  Of course, I”m not really preferential to one as I like them all but it’s the kind of thing that provides a lot of options.  And then of course there is the fact that you can get a variety of them in the same trip.

But mostly, I just want to have something I can say I’ve done that will give me more things to continue to discussions about the things I’ve done because I think that is something that is great.

Complete Internet

It seems there are quite a few websites out there that let you set up your vacation plans all from a single site.  You can find the hotel where you want to stay, your car, and everything else all from the same page.  That seems pretty useful, I think, and I know of a few sites like that off the top of my head.

I was thinking, though, that I wonder what is going to happen to the actual company websites.  Like, instead of going to a hotel’s website to book your hotel, you can just do it from one of those other sites.  I know it all goes to the same reservation regardless no matter how you do it, but it just seems like things might be getting made a bit more involved than they have to.

I mean, it’s cool that you can do it and all.  I’m not tryign to say that it’s not useful.

And when you’ve got the site available to set up everything at once, it is probably the best way to do it.

I think that it’s probably one of those things where there are going to be a few pages like that and then it’s going to sort of change into something else.  I don’t know what, but that’s how the internet goes.

There is probably a lot of work for travel website designers, too, since they have to get everything set up and make sure that all of the different things people might want are available.  They also probably have to plan everything out so that it works in a way that makes it easy for the user.

And I bet it’s one of those things where you have to get all the different information to be able to go to all the different pages so that you can see the hotel choices while you’re looking at where you want to go, etc.  And the website has to be able to do that without letting the user know what is going on, because they just want to make their pick.

This is definitely an interesting concept, though, and I think that we will probably experience it even more as developers come up with more ideas to give consumers what they want.  It will probably go to simplify things even more, I suppose.  The coolest part of all of this, though, is that it is something that we can all experience.

Something A Little Bit More Stylish

I am trying to learn more about how to decorate my home so that it looks a bit more modern.  There are a bunch of shows on television that I watch where they show like before and after home styles and I usually really like the changes they made but that’s not something that I would know how to do myself.  I’m not just necessarily referring to the ones where they tear down the cabinets and stuff, but even just getting new items to put in a room and changing some of the elements in the room.  Basically they don’t make any big changes but the place still looks so much nierc nicer when they ar e done.  That’s what I want to do because I feel like my place has been the same ever since I moved in and it’s just kind of general or traditional looking and I would like something a bit more modern.  It seems that not too manyp eople are into the whole modern style, but that is how I want to have it done.  If I am able to redo the inside of my home then I think I would like to make some changes to the outside, as well.

I want to do something with the area behind my home.  I already have some bushes and stuff out there that look nice but I’d like to get a little more stuff back there that would make it look a bit more fashionable.  That may not actually be the right word to describe a yard, but I just want a place where many people can come over and we can hang back there and have some cocktails or whatever.  I am going to want to get a table I think and some chairs to go with it.  Possibly I might want to get some metal garden furniture as well to put in the yard so that it seems a bit more interesting when I have people visit.  One of the things I’ve noticed on the television shows I wantch is that you need to have a palce for people to go for them to want to be at your house.  That’s why in living rooms you should have not only some seating options but also enough room for them, and I think the same is probably true for outdoor areas as well.  If there is stuff for people to do then they will likely want to go out there and use it.  But for now I’m just going to keep watching and see if I can get any more ideas for my place that I like.

A Little Overtraining

Man having joint pain sucks.  I’m not sure what is going on but my knee has been hurting for a while.  It started the other day when I got back from a run and I noticed that it was feeling a bit sore when I would walk on it.  It doesn’t hurt when I was running but it hurt afterwards and it’s been hurting a bit since.  I think that I may have stepped on it funny, or twisted it a little bit or something.  It isn’t bothering me that much right now but sometimes I notice it when I am walking and it just feels a bit weird to me so I Think I am going to have a doctor take a look at it.  I know a lot of people have knee pain and have to do some recovery to get it to go away.  I think it’s pretty common with runners and people who spend a lot of time exercising involving their legs.  Sometimes I do squats at the gym but that doesn’t seem to aggravate it.  Like I mentioned it didn’t start bothering me until after I got back from a run and it wasn’t even that bad, just something that I noticed.

It might be a good idea for me to start icing it.  The thing is that I don’t really spend as much time as I should on recovery and sometimes that has lead to injuries.  I tend to overdo it and overtrain because I like training but I don’t like stopping.  Running is something I like to do and even if I’m not feeling entire recovered from the last run I tend to go on that day’s workout, anyway.  So now I end up injured and it’s probably because I should’ve taken a bit of a rest instead of continuing to run even though I wasn’t feeling any pain because of my knee.  So looking online it seems there are some injections you can get if you have certain kinds of knee pain.  I will have to talk to my doctor first to see what is even going on with mine but maybe they provide osteoarthritis joint pain relief.  I think that I want to get my knee back to normal before I start running again so I don’t end up making it any worse and having to tend to more injuries.  I think in the meantime I am going to do some gentle stretching and not put any more weight on it that I have to just to make sure I don’t cause it to work too hard while it’s healing.

Kung Fu Studies

For a while now I’ve been studying various forms of martial arts. My first style was kung fu back when I was a kid. There was a class nearby that I used to go to and we learned all the basics which are stances, the proper way to punch and kick, etc. I think though that learning that as a kid is great. As you go, you also learn different methods of conditioning your body. For example, we used to punch a bag filled with mung beans that was hanging on the wall in order to be able to punch better. It wasn’t just about toughening the fist as much as making sure you have correct body posture. If you punch a bag incorrectly you will feel it.

I studied a few different styles every few years. What I learned in kung fu helped me in each of the other styles. For example, the stances might be different, but the principles are the same. Sometimes the techniques would be a bit different, but knowing how to do a stance in one style helps when you are doing stances in another style. I also studied karate which is a bit different from kung fu. The punches are a bit different, the stances are a bit different, and the general principles are a bit different, but being familiar with kung fu still helped. For example, karate is more direct than other styles. The blocks are hard, the punches are hard, and the movements are direct. Kung fu tends to be less direct, and more emphasis is placed on absorbing your opponent’s force. But they still both use many of the same principles.

Even when I wasn’t taking lessons I would still sometimes practice on my own. I practice my forms and techniques as part of my exercise routine. I train in my old uniform and I use a few other martial arts supplies from www.karatemart.com in my routine, too. You definitely miss out on something by not having others to train with but you can still get a good workout on your own. I want to make sure that I can still punch and everything and that I remember most of the techniques. I also want to keep up the habits that I’ve learned.

I think it would be cool to study an art that focuses on weapons. I know of kendo but I haven’t seen a school around here.

Making Better Choices

As you may have read in another post on my blog, I’ve been trying to make wiser financial decisions recently.  When I was younger it was one thing to spend most of my money and just have fun, but that’s not the best long-term strategy.  I’ve recently become more interested in investing and finding ways to use my money that can help me make more money rather than spending it on stuff that has no return.  I read in a book that you should spend your money on assets rather than liabilities.  An asset is basically something that provides value to you in the future.  An investment property, for example, is an asset.  You buy it, but then you can rent it out to someone who pays you rent.  Compare that to something like an expensive pair of shoes which costs you money and then you don’t get anything back from them.  Well, you get to wear them, but you know what I mean.  So I’ve been looking at things that may be able to provide a return for me.

I’ve started putting 5% of my paycheck into a 401(k).  My company matches 2.5%, too, so it’s really like I’m putting 7.5% of my paycheck in there, which is pretty cool.  It’s like getting an immediate 50% return.

I’m also interested in how the wold economies interact and have found currencies interesting.  However, I don’t really want to get too deep into that because I’ve been told that some of the brokers are “shady,” to put it mildly.  But I was reading here (http://www.financialtradingschool.com/curriculum/binary-options/) about something called binary options that appear to have a fixed risk/reward ratio and may not be quite as iffy.  I may have to give them a closer look.  I don’t have much of a tolerance for risk so I don’t think I’ll be investing much in that but it may be a good, very small minority of my investment portfolio.

It’s funny how the more you start paying attention to how you’re spending your earnings, the more you start to notice how other people spend theirs.  For example, one of my friends goes out to eat 3 or 4 nights a week.  I used to do that sometimes, but when I think about it now, each night is like $30-50 depending on where you go, and 3 or 4 times a week makes that between $90 and $200 a week just spent on eating out.   I can’t do that.  I mean, I could, but I don’t want to.  Besides, I don’t mind cooking at home, anyway.

Remember These?

So, this week marks the tenth anniversary of my entry into the world of working on construction equipment. I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life after high school. A good friend of the family had been a mechanic at a local construction equipment rental place for years, and he had faith in me. He knew me well enough to know that I would do everything in my power to do the best job I could.

Well, after two retail jobs I finally decided to take Matt up on the offer to try my hand at turning wrenches. I didn’t have to have a degree, I didn’t need much experience. Everything I needed to learn, I could learn from him. Having tinkered on cars since I was around fifteen years old, I had an idea of what to expect, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

See, cars have small parts; cars weigh around three thousand pounds. The pieces of equipment I work on weigh anywhere from six thousand pounds, like a small skid steer, to fifty thousand pound excavators and boom lifts. Needless to say, when you work on something twenty times the size, you need tools twenty times the size as well. The tools I had were appropriate for a mid-sized sedan, but there are hydraulic cylinders on some of these pieces of equipment that weigh half as much as a compact car.

I think after ten years I finally have the tools I need to fix pretty much anything, but believe me, in a shop where you have to buy your own tools (like most shops), the big ones get pricey. In fact, one of the priciest tools in my toolbox was by far one of those 1000lb torque wrenches. This thing probably cost as much as every tool I had combined before I started this job, but it’s something I had to have. The wrench itself weighs almost thirty pounds, it has a one inch drive, and it’s a beast. But, to be completely honest, what else could I use on a four inch bolt that supports twenty thousand pounds of structural steel?

Looking back on ten years in this industry, I’ll say I love my work. It’s definitely hard, it’s grueling, it’s dangerous, but I wouldn’t change it. I have experience working on some of the largest pieces of equipment in the construction field and I’ve loved every minute of it. To be honest, when we’re kids, we love playing with our big Tonka trucks and fake bulldozers. Not everyone gets to actually do that for a living, but I do and love it.

A Cleaning Secret

My sister called me a packrat this morning.  Can you believe that?  My sister.  The woman who uses her 3rd bedroom as a big closet!  She told me I have too much stuff and it’s affecting the “flow” of my home.  What does that even mean?  My house flows just fine!

In all seriousness, she may have a point.  I’ve been meaning to go through my stuff for a long time and get rid of a lot of the stuff that I’m not using anymore.  I have clothes from a few years ago that I don’t really wear anymore.  I’ve also got a bunch of other random stuff: computer stuff, books, mp3 players.  Ok, maybe I am kind of a packrat.  Anyway, I think I’m going to use one of those sites where you can sell your stuff that you’re not using anymore.  I thought about taking some of it to a local pawn shop but I don’t know how I feel about that, and I was going to try and list some of it on eBay but I don’t want to pay a bunch of listing fees and end up not having anything sell.  Another idea was giving it to my sister, but, uh, I think she already has enough stuff in that bedroom.

I really don’t clean enough, either.  I think that’s part of the reason I have so much stuff.  You know, I always make a note to myself to try and be more proactive with my cleaning.  I know a little bit here and there adds up and you don’t even have to have those big cleaning days if you do it that way, but I just don’t.  It’s always “oh, I’ll do that next time.”  Except I don’t.  And then every few months I have to set a day aside and just clean my entire place.  The floors, the furniture, all my stuff, the kitchen, the bathroom, everything.  I even have an old toothbrush that I use to clean the grout in the shower (which works brilliantly, btw; use your old toothbrushes for this!).  And then when I finish I’m like yeah, that looks nice.  And then it slowly starts getting all dirty again, things being left out, mail piling up on my table, clothes on the floor next to the hamper in my bedroom.  Yeah.  It’s too late to do it as my new year’s resolution this yeah, so, I don’t know, maybe I should just do a little cleaning every Saturday or something when I first wake up instead.

Bucket List

Do you have a bucket list?  I had never even heard of the term myself until that movie came out a few years ago with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.  It kind of made me think that maybe I spend too much time planning and not enough time actually enjoying the experience of living.  Most of my professional life (since university) has been spent doing and planning.  I work and make money, but save most of it so I have enough for the future.  In university, even, everything was done under the goal of future success.

Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a vacation?  I don’t even feel like I can take a vacation because that would mean less time that I can spend working toward my financial goals for the future.  You don’t know how much money you need for the future because you never know what you’re going to need, but you still have to work toward that unknown goal just in case.  And in the meantime, you might be missing out.

Is it better to live life when you’re young and healthy and can enjoy it, or is it better to wait until you’re older and can comfortably afford it, but can’t enjoy it as much?

I used to be so sure that it was better to wait until you can afford it comfortably, but now I’m not so sure.  As I enter middle age I can’t help but think of opportunities that I may have missed because I was too busy preparing.

I have a bucket list but I haven’t done anything on it because I’m too concerned with not spending money.

I want to go to France.  Every time I see a picture of France I think it looks so beautiful.  I watch House Hunters International and I love the episodes that take place in Paris or some other French city.  I daydream.

I want to learn to surf.  I remember seeing some people surfing when I was a child and on the beach in California when I was visiting some family out there, and it always looked so awesome, but since I didn’t live there I never really had the opportunity.  I want to go to a Costa Rica surf resort and not do anything other than learn to ride the waves and relax and take in the whole scene.  Why haven’t I done this yet?

I want to learn to sing.  I always sing in my car, but I don’t really know how to sing.  I want to get formal coaching.  I haven’t done this yet because I’m very self-conscious about my singing voice and was always afraid to sing in front of someone else (even if that person was a teacher).

Why am I waiting to do these things?

That Expensive Cup of Coffee

I need to try and be more frugal, I think.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who spends $5 every day on coffee on the way to work, although on a related note, they did just put a Starbucks in our office, and although they don’t have the full Starbucks menu (eg. There are no mocha frappuccinos) it’s still better than the coffee in the coffee machines in the break room.  I’ve been known to drink coffee throughout the day, though, and it can add up over time.  Drinking coffee is actually something that I want to get away from.  I want to try and wean myself off of caffeine, so I might actually switch to green tea or something that is healthier, anyway, and see if I can do it like that.  I don’t want to be one of those corporate robots who are addicted to coffee, and I kind of see myself heading that way.  At least I’m not on the energy drink bandwagon… yet.

What’s that saying, “pound wise but penny foolish?”  That’s me.  I’m pretty good when it comes to big things with money.  I research before I buy stuff, I get good deals on like electronics and stuff, but with the little stuff I know that one of my weakpoints is not paying attention to how they add up.  So all the money I save on big stuff I end up just spending on little stupid stuff (like $3 coffee!).

I need to stop that.  I also need to have a talk with my accountant and see if there are any expenses or anything I am missing.  One of the things I’ve learned is that saving money is the same as making more money.  Say you bring home $1,000 per week.  Well, a lot of people would think “man, if I brought home $1,100 per week that’d be even better!”  But what they don’t realize is that if you can find a way to save $100 per week, that’s the same as making an extra $100 per week.

Plus, I read this book, “the Millionaire Next Door,” and it was basically talking about how rich people became rich by being frugal, not by having huge incomes.  They don’t all drive flashy cars like the celebrities and stuff you see on TV.  There’s a misconception about how rich people spend their money, and it was pretty eye-opening to learn about that.

So that’s my goal for this year.  Save more money, and do it by watching the small purchase I make that tend to add up over time.

Close To My Target Weight

I think this year is going to be the year that I get back in shape.  If you remember my post from before where I mentioned that I got interested in running because of my cousin, you’ll that it’s already a pretty big part of my life.  But even though I run regularly now and I am able to run a few miles without stopping, I could still stand to lose a few pounds.

I know that diet has a lot to do with it.  What’s that saying, “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym”?  I do think I need to take a look at my diet and probably make some changes and get rid of a few things altogether… like processed food.  I have been reading recently about the harmful effects of nitrites (and nitrates), and as soon as I started reading the labels, I found they were in just about everything I ate.  Meat from the deli?  Yup.  Sausage?  Yes.  Frozen dinners?  You know it.  Even ham has nitrates and it, which sucks, because ham is delicious, and for a while there I was making ham and eggs for breakfast every day, but I probably shouldn’t do that anymore.  Well, technically not all ham has nitrates in it; I have seem some “preservative free” styles at the store, but they’re quite expensive.

I wonder if I should also use any supplements that are designed to promote weight loss and/or curb your appetite, like green coffee bean extract.  I figure a little extra boost couldn’t help, right?  I think the problem some people have is because they try to rely on the supplement (whatever it may be) rather than actually using it as its name suggests it should be used: as a supplement.  Weight loss drugs aren’t designed to cause you to lose weight on their own; they’re designed to help you lose weight in addition to proper diet and exercise.

Alright, enough ranting.  Back to talking about food.  Although I’m not proud to admit it, there was a period in my life where I didn’t really eat many vegetables or fruits.  I never really ordered salads because they’re always expensive (have you ever noticed that?), and I pretty much just ate frozen pizza or some other frozen meal every night.  Either that or fast food, because it’s fast and I didn’t have to cook anything.  But even recently I’m finding that I kind of enjoy cooking, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to make myself some healthier food and keep away from all the processed stuff as I work toward my target weight.