Monday, September 24, 2012

Warp Speed

Tonight, as my son got into bed and was getting settled, he asked, "Dad, why haven't we explored that new planet like ours that they found, Kepler-22b?" I explained that it is too far away for us to explore it right now. He asked, "why can't we just send a rover to it, like we did with Mars?" He's right, why can't we?  "Well, Ty, it took a very long time for us to get a rover on Mars, and Mars is the planet right next door to us, not another galaxy away like Kepler-22b." I then told him what I read the other day about how scientists believe that warp speed may actually be possible. I won't get into the technical nature of it, but if they are right, and can produce enough energy (or make modifications to their plan that require less energy) it may be possible for a spacecraft to move at a speed greater than light speed. Amazing! "So, Ty, if this happens in the next few years and we can travel faster than light, we'll be able to use warp speed to get farther away in shorter periods of time, making exploring Kepler 22-b less of an impossibility."

Here comes the proud Daddy part. So most people would be bored to tears so far in this conversation, as you probably are if you're still reading, but not my son. He says, "Warp speed? What is warp speed? Oh, I get it. It's like in Star Wars. No, wait, like Spaceballs. It's like the can of liquid Schwartz and we'll be able to go swoooosh, really fast." He cracked us both up with his animated delivery of this epiphany.

So, my 8-year-old, who is growing up at warp speed, completely understood a conversation about warp speed based on the movie Spaceballs. I think I could be Dad-of-the-Year! LOL

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bad Daddy?

Monday nights at our house are guy's nights. Mommy works the late shift so I pick Tyler and a friend of his up from CCD and then after dropping off his friend, it is just the two of us for the mad dash to get dinner, homework, reading, showering and more reading done before his bedtime. Add in the fact that it is football season, and Ty is begging to stay up just a little later so he can watch some of the game, and we have a packed night.

Tonight was no exception and there was more homework than ever, including the dreaded writing assignment, which we both hate. When he was showering, he was talking up a storm, trash-talking my Jets while I reminded him his Giants lost this weekend and my Jets did not. What he didn't know is that I saw mommy come up the stairs and head into our room to get changed.

I'm constantly telling Karen that Ty manipulates her and he knows how to push her buttons to get what he wants. She, of course, doesn't think her little angel could be so devious. It was perfect because as he got out of the shower he made the "Puss in Boots" face with the big eyes, that he jokingly makes sometimes. So, as i wrapped him in a towel to go to his room to get dressed, I used the opportunity to let Karen hear firsthand how he works her. I reminded him that face doesn't work on me but it does on mommy. He corrected me and said it doesn't work on her because she knows it is a joke, but he knows how to get what he wants fro mommy. I asked how he does that. He told me, loud enough for Karen to hear, that when he wants something that he knows i don't want him to have or do or get, he waits until I am not in the room or home and then asks mommy. If she says no, he begs and begs until she gives up and he gets it.

These were his own words, not me creating the scenario and getting him to say yes. As he walked out of the bathroom all cocky he saw Karen standing there smiling. He froze and said, "oh no." He went to his room to get dressed and then he was in a rush to watch the game so we dropped it, but now mommy knows the deal. She swears she won't let it happen again. I give it until tomorrow until he works his magic on her again and she caves.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

iPad and hour giveaway by Zagg!

You know I am a gadget geek and I also love getting those gadgets for free when I can, so this giveaway is not-to-be-missed, and even though I hope to win 1, you can win just as easily.

The contest starts at midnight (mountain time) on Black Friday and runs hourly for 24 hours.

Click through this post to see the official rules, and to enter every hour on Friday.

Here's some of the official info from Zagg to explain more:
(you'll understand why I posted this to the blog and linked it to you on Facebook, after you read the bonus entry info below)

"In 2010, we began the iPad-a-week giveaway. Then in February 2011, we started the iPad-a-day giveaway. We continued the iPad-a-day giveaway until Apple sold out of iPads. Today we announce the obvious successor: The iPad-an-hour Giveaway.

On Black Friday, November 25, 2011, starting at midnight (MST), we’ll be giving away an iPad 2 every hour. 24 iPad 2s over 24 hours. Each hour is a new opportunity to enter the giveaway. So yes, you need to go to the giveaway page each hour and enter.

Entering the giveaway will be simple. To enter, just submit your email address. For additional entries, you can share on Facebook and Twitter. A Facebook share is worth two additional entries and a Twitter share is worth one additional entry.

Bonus: To get an additional 24 entries, one additional entry per hour, you can blog about the iPad-an-hour giveaway. To qualify for this, you must write a blog post explaining the giveaway to your readers and include a clickable link to the giveaway page (Here is the giveaway page’s URL: Once you have published your post, send a text message to 801-477-7178 with your blog URL, the email address that you will use to enter the giveaway (standard messaging rates apply), and first and last name. Once your blog post is approved, we will text you back verifying that you will get a bonus entry each hour over the 24 hours. Please do not call this number as it will not be monitored and will only be used to receive text messages about the giveaway. You have until November 21st to submit your blog post."

Godd luck to you all!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Even I forget to ask for my AAA Discounts!

Disclaimer: I work for AAA in New Jersey as the VP of Marketing, and the following is my opinion and also a shameless plug for one of the benefits I LOVE most about AAA Membership.

On October 19th, I sold my very first item on eBay! I was so excited because I had tried a few items over the last few years, and never managed to get a sale. This time it was different. After the first auction expired, I relisted the item, a Margaritaville Tahiti Frozen Concoction Maker (Model DM3000) for a slightly lower price, and somebody used the buy-it-now link and my sale was complete!

It wasn't until the next day that I realized the item, which I listed with shipping included, was purchased by somebody in Alaska. I checked with the buyer to see if she would allow me to ship it US Parcel Post, which would keep the shipping costs closer to what I had estimated, but she bought the item for a Halloween Party and doing so would make the package arrive too late for her to use it. She amazingly offered to split the shipping with me. So, I headed to a UPS Store near work the next day to send the package UPS Ground, which was quite pricy.

Here comes the AAA plug and the part I love. When I got the total, $199.62, I took a deep breath, reached into my wallet, and pulled out my AAA Member Rewards Visa card. If I was going to spend this much, I might as well get points for it. But, since the card has the AAA logo on it, the woman who was cashiering me told me she would adjust the bill to give me the AAA discount of 5%. So, even though I'm embarassed to say I didn't know we had a UPS Store discount, by using my AAA Member Rewards Visa card, the cashier saw the logo and I only paid $189.64, saving $9.98 and getting 190 points in my member rewards account.

The point of my story, aside from wanting people to know that I basically sold an ice machine to an Alaskan, is to tell you 3 things: 1) If you aren't a AAA Member, you should be, for the discounts alone (It really does pay for itself if you use the card to save); 2) If you're a AAA Member and you don't have the the AAA Member Rewards Visa, you should get it to accumulate points towards all kinds of rewards, including cash back, and the logo on it will remind merchants that you are entitled to any AAA discount they may offer; 3) Whether you have the credit card or not, Show Your AAA Card and Save! Ask for the AAA discount everywhere. The worst thing that will happen is the merchant will say they don't offer a discount. The best case is you may just save some money unexpectedly!

OK, the shamless plug is over. :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Baby Talk, Baby Talk

For six months or so now I have been trying to get my son to stop talking like a baby. As a 7-year-old it is about time, don't you think? So when he starts speaking in baby talk I tell him I can't understand him because I don't understand baby talk. He then tries to speak normally, but he's not sure how to do that when he is consciously thinking about it.

Tonight, as he was trying to ask me a question about my brother and sister-in-law's visit this weekend he was talking baby talk. I started in with my usual "I can't understand you" and he smiled and then yelled the question. I told him I couldn't understand that either. Then he started speaking in a foreign accent (a talent he got from me, no doubt) and I laughed along with him. I asked if he talks baby talk at school and he said no. So I suggested he talk to me like he talks to his teachers. He said ok and took a breath to speak, then stopped himself short. He turned to me and said, "but, Dad, I don't talk to my teachers."

He'll eventually grow out of the baby talk, but I don't think there is any hope he will grow out of the funny, smart ass that he is, and I'm happy about that.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why I Recommend Marriott's Residence Inn Downtown Baltimore-Inner Harbor

Due to the early arrival of our new twin nephews, who are healthy and adorable, plans for childcare during my son's Spring Break this week were altered at the last minute this past weekend. Instead of my son spending a few days with Grandma and Pop Pop and then being joined by Karen and me mid-week for a short vacation at at the grandparent's place, he got to spend the whole week with me and then Karen decided to take an extra day off to spend some time with us on a spontaneous trip to Baltimore.

As new plans unfolded last weekend I set out to find us an inexpensive place to stay at the last minute. Since that is basically an oxymoron, I set out to either use Marriott Rewards Points, or a Marriott Famtastic certificate (a perk of being a Marriott Hotel Sales Specialist)! I'm happy to say we found the Residence Inn for 2 nights within our Rewards Points balance and booked it right away.

I've never stayed at a Residence Inn before and while I knew what the features of the hotel were, I didn't know whether or not I would be a big fan or not. I can honestly say this worked out to be the best place we could have stayed on this trip. The hotel is located on Light Street, about 2-3 blocks from the Northwest corner of the Inner Harbor area, which was such a safe, easy walk each time we journeyed out.

I'm sure there are a few different layouts due to the physical elements of the building but our room, which was more of a suite, offered several separate areas. Inside the door you enter a large common room that serves as the living room, dining room and kitchenette. The kitchen area consists of an l-shaped granite counter with cabinets above and below, a refrigerator, microwave, full sink and disposal, dishwasher, coffee maker, toaster and all the dinnerware, glassware, pots, pans and utensils you could need. Adjacent to the kitchen area is a small table with 2 chairs for dining. In the living room there is a desk and chair (which can be used at the kitchen table as well), a sleeper sofa, chair, side table, 2 storage ottomans that also act as a coffee table, and a flatscreen TV with 2-drawer stand. Through a separate door is a private bedroom with a king-size bed, full dresser with another flatscreen TV and 2 nightstands with a drawer and cubby in each. There is a walk-through area containing the closet and vanity with sink before getting to another door, behind which you find the toilet and shower.

I'm one of the people who lives to be connected, so the free wifi and ethernet connections were a big plus for me. There were also supplies for 4 pots of coffee that would be replenished as used each day, and a bag of microwave popcorn, which we used when we ordered a movie one night after a long day in the harbor. The hotel does offer a full breakfast each morning, that is included in the rate, as well as free coffee in the lobby around the clock. If you are not a morning person (able to get to breakfast by the time it ends at 9:30) Dunkin Donuts is literally next door.

I did use the iron and ironing board, which I sadly use on every trip I take, and was a bit disappointed in the quality of the iron and left wondering why a hotel that has a name that implies one might live there for a period of time would only have a cover and not a pad on the board. I was also shocked to find there is no safe in the room. I checked the calendar and it really is 2011 and I think I may have found the last hotel in the US without this 'modern' feature. I know this is not a true statement, but I am still shocked Marriott has missed the ball on this one. Both of these minor issues were not enough to make me think we made a poor choice, however.

We loved the location, the layout of the rooms, the cleanliness, the included freebies, the staff and the overall experience of this hotel. We will definitely stay here the next time we're in town, even if we have to pay for it next time.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Loving the ClamCase

I ordered the ClamCase on December 30th, just before the special price of $99 expired. They were apparently in preproduction and shipping in January. I waited (very patiently, I might add) until just last week for it to arrive.

First impression: Damn, this thing is heavy!

After a few days: I love this thing!

It really does give me the flexibility to do all the things I want to do with my ipad. I usually just use it flipped back as a stand for the ipad, using it as the touch-screen device it was meant to be. The stand is awesome because, unlike most cases, it is unlimited in the angles you can rest the ipad at for viewing. I also use it completely folded back when walking around with my ipad and wanting to use it as a "tablet." The hard plastic is also a great case for the device when closed and keeps the whole thing (front and back)safely inside.

But, I have found that I have used the keyboard quite often. As someone who has gotten used to using a smartphone, I often leave those longer emails to when I am back at a pc. I was doing the same thing wiht the ipad, too. Yes, I would send longer ones on the ipad, but those novels I often write and pass of as an email, I was still waiting to hit the office before sending. Now, I just flip open the stand to reveal the keyboard and type away.

I'm actually writing this post on the keyboard, looking at a device on my lap that looks more like a netbook than an ipad.

Is this just me loving the new toy? I don't think so. I take notes a lot at work for many of the committees and project groups I work on, and always do it with pen and paper and have to find time to write the official notes and send them off in the days that follow. Last week I used the ClamCase keyboard to use the ipad to take my notes, and then sent them off to everyone via email before the meeting even broke up. This was very cool to me, and eliminated me having to find time to type my notes and send them out.

It hasn't even been a full week, so i will keep looking for ways to use this and report back on my love, or lack thereof in a few weeks.

Oh, and the weight? It's still noticeable, but not an issue.