Saturday, April 26, 2014

Galaxy Quest

I'm cute, but I'm busy here!

I'm pretty excited readers.  That's because my new Samsung Galaxy 4 smart phone has finally arrived.  I say finally, when in fact I just ordered it a couple of days ago.  Even so, I wanted more instant gratification.

I was kidding about that last part.  The finally is actually because I waited around for quite some time before committing to the new phone since I was waiting for the phone to become free on our wireless plan.  I'm cheap that way.

Let me revise that.  I'm not cheap, just a dad with a couple of expensive kids who prohibit me from getting the latest and greatest toys until they become affordable.  And Free.99 is just the kind of affordable price that I like. (Yes, I DO know that I'm not getting the phone for free but I'm going with that interpretation, so don't bother trying to convince me otherwise.).

There were several reasons I was getting frustrated with my old iPhone 3.  One was that it was so crammed with apps and add on's that I didn't have room to upgrade my operating system.  

This left me with an out of date phone that I couldn't load crucial apps on.  Crucial apps like MLB At Bat 14. And without At Bat 14 there were several recent occasions where I had to wait to hear that my Seattle Mariners lost a late inning game, instead of seeing it first hand on my app.  

Okay, so perhaps that's a bad example.  Forgive me, I'm a long suffering fan.

I'm also excited  to get my new Galaxy Phone because it offers an improved internal GPS from that of the iPhone3.  I need this for when I take the family Geo-caching.  The iPhone 3 wasn't very precise for this, so we didn't end up actually doing much Geo-caching.  Thanks to my new phone,  I'll be finding treasures like little rubber figurines in no time.

Those things are good, but now I'll admit that the real reason I'm excited about getting this new phone is because of the camera it sports.  That's right, the camera.  It's a 13.1 megapixel beauty that I can carry in my back pocket.  

You don't realize how frustrated I have been with the low quality camera's we have employed in this household over the past several years.  Hint: They were terrible.

Anyway, I know that this phone camera isn't exactly a DSLR, but I'm hoping it will allow me to snap cute, blog-worthy pictures of the kids without a lot of fuss.  Like the one above.  That picture of Annabelle,  my 2nd with my new phone,  was taken by accident.  By accident!  And it was better than most from my previous non phone camera, which I swear took 90% blurry pictures.  This one's not perfect either, but I wasn't even trying.  I think she was actually pooping.  AND IT WAS STILL BETTER!

Yep, the real reason I'm excited about my new phone is that I'll be able to snap higher quality pictures of my kidos. 

And that's well worth the wait.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happiest Place on Earth? Not Without a Science Fair

I'm a bit bummed readers.

That's because I am currently on a business trip in Anaheim, CA, right across the street from Disneyland. Bummed? "Why would you be bummed" you may be asking, "Aren't you at the happiest place on earth?" 

Well, sort of. I am actually across the street from the happiest place on earth. And I have to tell you, next door to the happiest place on earth, outside the wall not able to look in, doesn't equal happy.

 I actually visited Downtown Disney last night, which was still outside the park and just might qualify as the most crowded place on earth. Or perhaps the noisiest place on earth. It was actually pretty close to closing time for the park, so I thought I might be able to walk in and look around a bit for free. Instead the friendly person at ticket counter offered me a ticket for $92.

I opted to walk back through Downtown Disney instead.  I needed to find some gifts to take back to the kids. That I accomplished, courtesy of the LEGO Store, which is always a good option.

Still, not getting into Disneyland for free isn't why I'm bummed. Nope.

I'm actually bummed, because I'm at Disneyland and Lukas is back at home RIGHT NOW, presenting his very first Science Fair project. It's very cool, he worked amazingly hard on it, and it's NOT a volcano - rather a cool electric circuit challenge where the person taking the challenge has to try not to touch wires together completing the circuit and lighting up a light and siren. It's fun, it's educational, it's well designed and constructed.

It's all these things, and I don't get to see him present it tonight because I'm away on a business trip.

That's why I'm bummed. 

But I am also amazingly proud too. 

Lukas found the challenge in one of his science books, and instead of buying all the materials listed found a way to use the components from his snap circuit kit to complete the project, which he describes on the display for the fair. Lukas is 6, so Mrs. LIAYF, and to a much lesser extent, myself, helped him with the final polish and presentation, but the idea for the project, the design, and the meat and potatoes of the project was all him. 

This is pretty cool. I miss my kids and my wife too, and even though I'm bummed that I can't be there in person I am pretty sure Lukas is having a blast at this very moment, showing off a project that he worked amazingly hard on.

Way to go Buddy.  Your Dad is very proud of how hard you worked on this project.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Need For Speed! (Stick)

It's not often that an average guy gets a chance to realize a lifelong dream.  But that is exactly what happened to me recently, thanks to the fine folks at Speed Stick.

It's true, as I was fortunate enough to be chosen by them to participate in the Speed Stick Gear Up Challenge.  The point of the challenge was to see how the new Speed Stick Gear would hold up while the user was participating in an extreme event.

Initially, I was sent a pretty cool kit which included a GoPro camera that I could use to film some footage, a heart rate monitor and watch, and of course the Speed Stick itself.  I just needed to choose the actual event.

This is where the realization of a lifelong dream comes in.  Out of the options offered to me, I chose learning to fly in one day.  That's right, in the course of an hour I was to learn how to fly an airplane.  I have wanted to fly an airplane since I was probably Lukas' age, but never have had the opportunity.

Until now.

No, I didn't actually learn to take off and land the plane in that one lesson.  But I was able to take the controls and actually fly it by myself for nearly 45 minutes, circling around the Puget Sound region, climbing, diving, turning the plane, pegging a certain altitude, and racing a jetliner which had taken off from SeaTac International airport.

Okay, April Fools on that last part as my co-pilot made sure that we were never in the vicinity of any Jet liner that was actually in the air.  We did however, to my surprise, cross directly over SeaTac (we had taken off from a different airport) because of the weather at the time, which included several dark and ominous looking clouds.

"Aren't there Jets landing here every minute or two? " I asked as we passed over the runways.  "Yep, but we have a window to get through" my instructor let me know.  Needless to say, I felt much better once we had cleared the airport.

It was at that point we turned away from the rain clouds, and flew towards the sun - its golden rays glistening over the Puget Sound waters which stretched southwards towards Olympia.  I was at the controls then, and would remain there until we actually came in for our landing.

I have to say, this was as amazing an experience as I expected it to be.  Sure, I felt pretty small and vulnerable from up there, looking down on the world in miniature below.  But I also felt both exhilarated, and empowered too.  It was definitely an experience I will remember forever.

As exhilarated as I was, I was amazingly calm during this whole experience too.  And so my heart rate monitor didn't get much of a workout.  Most importantly though, I didn't sweat either.  At least I couldn't tell if I did, as the Speed Stick Gear did it's job nicely.  I was dry.

At least until I headed back towards my car.  It was a rainy day in Seattle after all.

Full disclosure:  As mentioned, Speed Stick provided me with this opportunity, the lesson, and the contents of the box, including the camera and heart rate monitor.  All I had to do was write about my experience. Easy Peasy.