Categories
Life

Four Things to Know About Seattle

As a recent transplant to Seattle, I feel like there might be some knowledge I can drop on future transplants.

1. The Department of Licensing, while overseeing both drivers licenses and car tags, does not handle both in a single office. You’ll have to go to two different offices.

I got my driver’s license approximately three weeks after arriving in Seattle, and only after digging online did I realize that they’re different offices. Also important is that after you get your new driver’s license you’ve got 30 days to get your tags changed. Before what? I don’t know. I just know that’s the window I was told.

2. If it snows more than flurries, the city shuts down and public transit is going to be hours delayed everyday.

Having just survived a snowpocalypse, I can personally attest to this. The city expects and lives with rain, but if it turns to ice then much of the city is helpless. I live two miles from my office and the weather made it unsafe for me to get to work. But the good news is that the snow doesn’t last.

3. Seattleites are good people, but they’re not the kindest of people.

The first night my wife and I were here in Seattle, we went to the place people have gathered for thousands of years: the marketplace. Or as we call it now: Wal-Mart. And at Wal-Mart we discovered that people here were blunt and not the same politeness which we were accustomed to in Florida. People moved us out of the way, cut us off, and generally gave us the cold shoulder.

4. Teriyaki shops are everywhere.

In Florida it was Mexican food, here in Seattle it must be part of the building code to require a teriyaki shop in every strip mall. Cheap, easy, quick and… everywhere. Literally. So far I’ve really enjoyed the teriyaki places I’ve tried, but there are also some amazing sushi restaurants to be had, so don’t be shy in trying them out!

Categories
Life

How I Got Fat: A History

Update: Nearly a year after I posted this article, I’ve changed my life and undone most of the ‘fat’ you see here. I lost 67 lbs in 2012.

Me being goofy in high schoolLooking back, I don’t think I really got fat until I was in college, but I definitely began getting fat in high school. Up to my Junior year I played high school football and I was on the rowing team, these activities covered much of the school year and allowed me to stay in okay shape despite my never really pushing myself physically. Man did that exercise and sports boost my metabolism.

I can recall vividly after a football game I was starving and I was in the car with my parents as we drove home. I requested we drive through and get me some food. We stopped at a Wendy’s and I ordered not one, not two, but three chicken sandwiches. And fries. And a soda. Oof. High school metabolism why hast thou forsaken me!?

It was my Junior year when sports stopped being fun and I began to really discover how much I liked hanging out with friends or better yet, working and earning money. So I quit. But as far as I can remember, I still ate like I was an athlete.

Categories
Technology

iPhone-i-fide Goddamn Hero

Last weekend I officially turned off my Android phone and felt the power in my hands as I began using an iPhone. As I wrote last time, it wasn’t a decision I took to lightly.

I spent a fair bit of time before my last post, and after, considering why the changing of Android to iPhone bore such weight for me. In some ways, I’ve tried to champion Android among my less tech savvy friends. I held up the openness, showing off my customized interface with unique icons and moving wallpaper. I constantly defended Android to my tech savvy friends who had iPhones. I even, for a short time, converted one to the world of Android only to see him return to iPhone ‘because it just works.’

The fact is that Android is following the path of Windows, becoming a more open OS and trading cost to the detriment of stability or smooth function. When a sizable OS change occurs, as did with their still-rolling-out Ice Cream Sandwich version, old phones are left in the dust. And unlike Windows, where users tend to cling to the versions they know and love, many Android fans lust for the next version. Why? Because it might do more better. The OS still feels unfinished.

So here I am, converted, happily using my iPhone. I would estimate that I spent roughly $50 on apps for the phone, from top notch games like Puzzlejuice and Ascension, to the best app for Twitter, Tweetbot, and on to other necessary apps such as ones used to help me eat healthier. It’s sad, because I’d happily weigh the best Android apps with the best iPhone apps and say that they will often match up excellently. But there are also arenas where Android simply falls flat. Tweetbot far outshines anything I found on Android, but on Android I found I prefer the selection of Reddit apps such as Reddionic (which is still in Alpha.)

In the first days I had the iPhone, I spent probably six hours toying with it and adding apps, here is the current list of apps I’ve downloaded.

Categories
Technology

Over Android

Today, while driving today, I nearly threw my phone out the window. I thought about rolling it down and chucking it out as I rolled along at 50 miles an hour, watching in joy as the phone shattered and broke on the pavement and snow. I had had enough.

You have to understand, I’ve supported the Android OS since the Droid 1 got into my hands. It was a fantastic phone and I was very happy… for the first year or so. And then the phone began to fall behind, technology moved forward and the Droid 1’s processor and memory quickly fell further and further behind. I was able to combat this with custom ROMs and thanks to the prevalence of the Droid 1 I was able to enjoy a thriving hacker community to squeeze every ounce of power out of it.

Come a few months ago and my Droid 1 was nearly dead. It limped along with a broken power button, poor battery life, and increasing forced reboots. I held out and fought, dragging the phone kicking and screaming to my two year phone upgrade with Verizon, but when the time came the promised phone – the kwisatch haderach for Android was not to be seen, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus kept getting pushed further back. And I was forced to succumb to a subpar phone, the LG Revolution. My patience had run out, and I did not relish the thought of driving across the country with a half operating phone. And my loss of patience led me to make a rash decision.

The LG Revolution has been nothing but painful as far as phones go. For our drive we relied on Katie’s iPhone’s GPS to get us navigated safely. Why hers and not mine? Because using the GPS was causing my phone to reboot. For phone calls we had iffy quality. Sometimes when I get a call the phone never shows me a useful screen and just vibrate rings endlessly. The only way to stop it is to pull the battery. I mean seriously, What… the fuck.

Now, my anger isn’t against the Android OS. I think it does fine and will continue to improve. But if a perfect Android phone exists out there, then I might have to go through three or more phones before I find one which works. Whereas if I go straight to the iPhone I know I’m guaranteed a satisfactory performance. Maybe not stellar. I know there will be frustrations there, but… well… I’m ready for a change.

So in the next few weeks I’ll be going for it. Time to try out iOS.

Categories
Life

Our West Coast Christmas

As it turns out, the west coast celebrates Christmas just like the rest of the United States. I wasn’t certain, but am glad to see it’s true. After buying a tree earlier last week, Katie and I waited until Christmas Eve to actually decorate it. We had to go through the still packed boxes in our garage before finding the right ones. We unpacked our decorations and enjoyed a wonderful tree by our fireplace.

Categories
Life

Where You Might Be Swept Off To

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Five years ago, when I launched ManaNation, I had naivë dreams of untold riches as I captured a niche market and gained throngs of followers. Little did I know how difficult growing a Magic website would prove to be. It became a monumental task to continue to expand, innovate and find new ideas for the site. Then two years ago fate decided that it was time to take it to the next level and the site exploded and I was dropped into possibly the perfect job for me.

It’s been quite a journey. One that I admit I had no clue where it was taking me. And one that has swept me off my feet.

Today I get to announce a new leg of the journey. One that is a surprising and delightful turn: Starting next month, on Dec. 12th, I will work for Wizards of the Coast as their Content Specialist overseeing DailyMTG.com.

So in a few short weeks, with a holiday and a major Magic tournament (World Championships) in the weeks in the middle, Katie and I will be moving to Seattle with an epic 6 day cross country road trip. And like every good war-time commander, I’m ready to throw plans out the window at a moment’s notice.

Leaving CoolStuffInc was a tough decision, my bosses and everyone there have been fantastic – in many ways it’s been my dream job. They gave me almost carte blanche to pursue ideas and explore my entrepreneurial spirit to find new ways to make the company money. I was a one man mad-scientist R&D, the “resident dreamer” and it has been awesome.

The truth is that Wizards is just about the only company who could pull me away from here. Talking to my bosses and telling them the news is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do professionally. But, I’m excited at what’s coming down the road.

I wrote an article about this news for GatheringMagic.com, and in it I use a quote from Conan O’Brien: “Work hard, be kind and amazing things will happen.” I can 100% confirm this is true.

Categories
Life

Three Months of Wisdom

It’s been nearly three months since my last blog post. I feel like a lover spurning an old flame, but the trap I continued to fall into for the past months is that – my life hasn’t been overly interesting. I haven’t felt driven to chase my muse across the keyboard, though I’ve watched her flit about to and fro.

I’ve considered stories, like one I have working titled “RIOTBall” which explores a world where sports and police forces intermingle almost indistinguishably. It sounds zanier than it actually is, but it’s a concept still – nascent and unready to be brought forth.

I’ve done some travel and I could talk about the places I’ve gone and the things I’ve done, but not yet – there is a story there, but as above… it’s time hasn’t come yet.

My wife and I just celebrated our first year of marriage, a muted but intimate affair. We’re overjoyed that we survived the first year and have agreed to carry on for at least 79 more years.

I have opinions on the current state of politics, the current financial crisis, and the whole #OccupyWallStreet movement but again, none of these are wholly formed and ready to be put down on paper.

There is wisdom all around us. Spun out in bands like radio waves from a tower, if only we are paying attention to see them. The wisdom which resonates in the world comes from the news of Steve Jobs’ passing, and it’s a quote that is now six years old. I remember reading it when the transcript of his commencement speech was posted – but it never resonated with me until he died.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

To me, that’s three months of wisdom. Gained at the cost of three months, to be spent frivolously over the rest of my life.

Categories
Life

The Craziest Thing I’ve Ever Done

Dean Karnazes
Dean Karzes, image courtesy of UltraMarathonMan.com

Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness. – Dean Karnazes

If you’ve never heard of Dean Karnazes, you shouldn’t feel too bad. He’s not a basketball player. He’s not an olympian. He’s not a billionaire. What he is though, is a marvel of what the human body is capable of. He’s the Ultra Marathon Man. He ran 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states. That’s pretty impressive. In fact he had an episode of Stan Lee’s documentary-esque show about Superhumans, and in it they revealed that his body has developed such a strong system for transporting lactic acid (the stuff that makes our muscles hurt after exertion) that his body maintains or lowers its levels while he’s running. That’s insane!

I love that quote, because it’s so true. I love being comfortable, and for 27 years it’s made me happy.

And it’s what made me weigh 360 lbs.

Yep. I had a pound for almost every day of the year. While not quite morbidly obese, and given that I am rather tall, it’s not the number that would get me on Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, I’m still very unhappy with the condition my body is in.

I’ve yoyo’ed numerous times, I’ve tried gym memberships, I’ve bought equipment, I’ve trained with the wife, etc. I’ve done lots and lots of wrong things and fallen off the balance beam every time.

And it sucks.

So I’ve taken to yet another strategy, this time keying off my buddy Doug, who has been training in preparation of a triathlon. And it’s done amazing things for him! (Looking good Doug!)

However, I’m not training for a triathlon (not yet at least.) I’m training for:

Spartan Race

You only fail when you give up. If you don’t give up, you have not failed, you just haven’t succeeded yet.

I’m training to race three races in January, February and March of 2012.

Now’s the point where I tell you, I’ve never run a mile in my life. Despite having played football, and rowed Crew during high school. I was lazy even then! I did the least amount of work required and often less while making it look like I had done my part.

So, having never run a mile in my life, I’m going to do a 3 mile, an 8 mile and a 3 mile race within 6 weeks of each other. But that’s not all. These races have things like this:

I have no misconceptions. I know this is going to be hard. And I’ve already heard from several people that they don’t think I can do it. Or that they think I’m insane.

But also, I’ve found a growing number of friends who think this is awesome. Who think I can do it. And of them, a small handful who have decided to take on the races with me. That’s the really awesome part. Not only am I being driven to succeed, but I’ve got a group of friends who want to share this experience.

So the race is my end goal, but what about the in between? Where do I want to be when it comes race time?

You have to earn your body, nobody gives it you.

Well, based on my body fat percentage, and estimating muscle gain and target body fat percentage I’m looking to be around 275-290 lbs. I’m not looking to be musclebound, less Vin Diesel and more Jason Statham. Muscled, but not overwhelming, to be so would make my life nearly as difficult as being fat has.

Athletically, for the 8 mile race I’d like to be able to run 10+ miles by then, because the obstacles will absolutely require higher stamina and energy.

Now for another admission: I’ve never successfully down a pull up in my life. Maybe in elementary school but even then I don’t think so. So the obstacles will absolutely require upper body strength, not just fantastic stamina. So between the sizable weight loss, and the gained muscle, I’d like to be able to do 20 pull ups.

So where does this leave me? I’ve got 205 days as of this publishing for the first race. That one is testing the waters. Then a month later I’ve got the 8 miler. And assuming that goes well, we’ve got a 3 mile to do just two weeks later.

I’m stupidly, naively, heart warmingly, terrifyingly excited about this. I’ve got a candle burning, and with the working out and beginning to see results it’s turning to kindling that will soon become a raging inferno of… AWESOME!

And now is the time I tell you, this is hardly the craziest thing I plan to do in my life. So be excited to see what else is in store!

There comes a time during any workout when your mind says, “Okay, we’re done. Let’s go home.” Strength and power is when your body smiles and turns the other way.

Categories
Book

Review: “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason

The parable is one of the timeless methods of sharing wisdom and information, from the same vein of mythological stories, fables and legends. George Clason fell on this method of writing, giving us a faux historical document to share wisdom which — in truth — is completely timeless and most likely were points of wisdom shared by teachers to students and elders to youth.

The wisdom held in this book is indeed valuable insights, though initially I struggled with the idea of working to gain wealth when I myself sit in a hole of debt. This was addressed further into the book though it took a stand that was less than modern, basically saying that if you have debt, you should talk to all your debt-holders and explain your situation — that you can only pay 20% of your income towards your debts. Since the debt holders will clearly understand this and respond favorably, you can get used to spending less but while still making at least some small payment towards your debt.

While it is hopeful of the best case scenario, that’s quite clearly the goal of the book. Its goal is not to train you for every eventuality but rather provide you some solid stones as things to think about for your financial success. Here are some of my favorite passages from the book:

That what each of us calls our necessary expenses will always grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to the contrary.

A PART OF ALL YOU EARN IS YOURS TO KEEP. It should not be less than a tenth no matter how little you earn. It can be as much more as you can afford.

When I set a task for myself, I complete it. Therefore, I am careful not to start difficult and impractical tasks, because I love leisure.

Advice is one thing that is freely given away, but watch that you take only what is worth having. He who takes advice about his savings from one who is inexperienced in such matters, shall pay with his savings for proving the falsity of their opinions.

The quotable lines in the book are numerous, and I could argue that perhaps every line in the book is quotable. This says less for the amount of what is being said, and instead for the quality of the editing work that trimmed the novel down to the barest of forms leaving a sleek and easily readable novel filled with wisdom.

I think one point which the book doesn’t highlight is the importance of knowing people. It talks about seeking wisdom from those who know, rather than taking advice about investing from a brick layer. But you must still know these people, or know how to find them, and validate them.

This is a book which will definitely merit rereading from year to year and will fall into the stack of books that my future children will be forced to read and endure.

The Richest Man in Babylon
ISBN: 0451205367
Length: 120 pages
Rating: 4/5 stars

Help me pick my next book to read by voting on the books in my queue!

Categories
Life

Three Weeks Married

I’ve started and stopped writing after the wedding about a half-dozen times. Life has continued on. Money continues to be needed, so I and K continue to work.

The truth is that nothing has really changed. Sure, I wear a ring now. I feel naked without it. But otherwise our lives are largely the same. We already lived together. We already were committed to each other. We already shared and relied on each other.

What has changed though is the future. Where our time lines might have, at some point in the past, spun off in separate directions they have now become inseparably entwined, wrapped around each other in a helix to eternity.

We have always said that this is forever. I believe it.

Yesterday was our three week anniversary. Pretty soon we’ll stop tracking the weeks, but for now we’re enjoying the count. Aiming for 80 years married, it means we’ve got somewhere around 4,156 to go.

I can’t wait 🙂