Category Archives: All About Me

I just wrote to my congressman

I just did something I have never done before. I wrote to my House Representative. Sure I have submitted online support forms before, but never have I taken the time to formulate my own message and ask a request for myself. You see there are evil people out there trying to destroy the very essence of what has made the Internet something that I very much care about. These bad people are out there trying to restrict online rights that embody creativity and communication. I am all for online security and being safe online but I am not for agencies like MPAA and RIAA controlling everything that we see and do and create online. There are some people standing up to stop these abuses in power. Here is what I wrote to my Congressman:

I would like to bring to your attention an issue that I strongly feel deserves your support. Congresswoman, Zoe Lofgren of California, has introduced two bills to the U.S. House of Representatives designed to protect the free and open Internet. These bills purpose the expansion of protections granted in the Fourth Amendment to cover digital communications and protect against the introduction of any further SOPA-like bills. Specifically the bills are: ECPA 2.0 and the Global Free Internet Act. I would like to request that you consider working with Rep. Lofgren in support these initiatives.

Staining boring oak cabinets a rich dark color (with photos)

Ok. So for some of you who know me you’ll be happy to know that I am finished with this project and hopefully now that I am finished I’ll be able to shut up about it for a while. Heck it is just nice to be able to enjoy the work applied….

So anyways, here we go…

We had this boring builder-grade honey oak cabinetry in our kitchen. Both Marcia and I were not big fans but we lived with it because they were decent quality and they were functional. Anyways she told me about some Pintrest pictures she saw where they turned the honey oak into this “sultry, dark espresso”.  I am talking rich dark bown/black cabinets that looks really good. In the we were led to this blog post on simply a lifestyle that gave all the details we needed to get started.

How good does it look? Well you be the judge, here is a before and after of the cabinets (with the new appliances installed as well):

Now I have had experience both staining, and painting wood so I was pretty comfortable with all the standard prep work necessary. If you want a more detailed step-by-step check out the blog link above (seriously they deserve some of the credit), but here is my quick and dirty tutorial

Step 1: Equipment prep: Remove all pulls, hinges, screws, knobs or anything else stuck on the doors and drawers. Store them in a ziplock for safe keeping if you plan to reuse them.

Step 2: Area Prep. This is stain we are talking about, so add protection to nearby floors, ceilings, counters, walls, or any area that may get stain on it. I used painters tape all over but also laid down some roller paper on the floors and counter tops. Also if you have kids like I do and there were items protected behind doors that are now exposed, don’t forget to move that stuff to a less kid-accessible location.

Step 3: Clean everything first. I scrubbed the hell out of everything because of all the crud that ends up on there.

Step 4: Scruff sand everything. The linked tutorial says a basic sanding will work, but I prefer a more detailed sanding job. All in all I spent like 2 hours sanding.

Step 5: Stain. Dry. Stain. Dry. Stain. Dry. Seriously though I let a good day to dry between stainings. Also I am going to mention here because it came so highly recommended. The best stain to use on this type of project is General Finishes Java Gel Stain. This stuff is magic. It has the consistency of a hair gel, goes on like a paint, and when it dries, dries like a traditional liquid stain. It is so amazing. I will also say I preferred applying it with a sock (versus a foam brush). When applying it don’t be afraid to apply a thick coat of it. Also make sure to not rub it or massage it into the wood, it requires a bite of delicacy.
Step 6: Poly and let it dry. I ended up using 3 coats of poly with a day (to two day) dry time between coats.

All said and done this was very painless and well worth it improvement to our kitchen. We love the improved ambiance this change adds to the room. Here are a few additional shots of the new look (due to lighting some look more brown than they do in person, in person it is a rich dark coffee color), I hope you enjoy:

Odd successes

Success is a funny venture. A little less than a year ago I learned of the Barnes and Noble Nook Color. Upon hearing it was built with the Android OS and geeks were successfully making progress towards hacking the Nook Color I was crazy excited to get my hands on it and try it out. I studied all the materials and wrote up one of the first articles on the Internet explaining how to root the Nook Color.

Well sure enough I wasn’t the only one who was excited about the Nook Color, because I started getting thousands of hits all going to that same article. To date it actually rates as the most popular thing (in views and draw to the site) I had ever written. The page has been served up tens of thousands of times and accounts for just shy of 15% of all of the traffic I have ever received. I have written other things that I thought were cool, interesting, fun, current, but none has ever compared to that article in terms of Internet popularity.

The web has a strange way of defining popularity and success…

The crazy and wild ride called life!

Life is a crazy and wild ride. As we live it we have two choices, embrace it for all it is worth or shell up and miss it. While I don’t see this blog turning into some strange self-help site I feel it is important to express what I am feeling from time to time. Just shy of 5 months ago, as the clock rolled over the year to 2011 I thought I knew what the year had in store for me. If you read my last post My World Turned Upside Down you would know that the family and I have been no a wild adventure as I have embraced a new job. I am now a full month into that new job and am moving forward with several initiatives at full speed. On top of that, after a month or so searching, we have found a house to buy in Mason, OH. For us it is a big upgrade compared to our last house:

  • 4 bedrooms versus the 3 we had
  • Master suite is 19×17 compared to the modest 12×11 we had
  • 2300 sq ft (with unfinished basement) versus 1400 sq ft (including basement)
  • Plus so much more!

We are still finalizing the negotiations but are hoping to get a closing date of 4/29/11. The house hunting, negotiations, and now house planning work has kept Marcia and I very busy. On top of this I still have 10 weeks left of classes before I graduate! It is getting so close and I can’t wait to be able to to get some time back to spend with the family. The point of this post is to share where my head is at and say that I have chosen to embrace the crazy and wild ride and it is paying off!

my world turned upside down

Well I failed to hit my blogging goal for the year. But I have a great excuse. My life was turned upside down in the best way possible; I got a new job! That’s right; nine years of success at TDS have come to a close. Honestly it has been extremely bittersweet for me to leave. I have made some amazing friends at TDS. I have learned some incredibly valuable lessons at TDS. I have grown professionally in unbelievable ways at TDS. Some of the most significant events of my life have happened while at TDS. I got married, both of my children were born, I bought my first home, and completed my 95% of my Bachelors degree. I don’t really feel like I have changed as a person, but deep down I know that I have.

I wanted to say thank you to the people that helped me, the people that believed in me, and the people who shared their friendship with me.

You may be asking “So what next”? Well I am now the Product Manager of Value Added Services at Cincinnati Bell. My wife and children have supported this by moving with me from Wisconsin to Ohio. I have been virtually silent on most social networks for the last month only because I have been so busy that I hadn’t had time to stop and think and react. Now that we are here in Mason, OH and I am well into my second full week of work things have finally started to settle to normal. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot to do; I have a full plate at work, we still need to sell our Madison home (I have linked the online listing if you’re interested), and we’re looking for a new home in Mason. But I can officially say that we are settling in and really enjoying it here.

Using Digital Health to help lose weight

As mentioned in my post Resolutions I have been on a mission to lose weight. This all started around October when I was hovering around 226-228 lbs. This is the heaviest I ever recall being and made me realize that I wasn’t helping by going out to eat as much as I was. It was also around that time that I read an interesting article about the Twinkie Diet. It was inspiring to see a knowledgeable (he is a nutrition professor after all)  man not only successfully lose a good deal of weight (27 lbs in 10 weeks), but also reduce his body fat index, improve his blood pressure, and make improvements to his cholesterol levels. The core concept of the diet is not eating crap food (that was just to prove a point), rather it was to reduce the daily caloric intake to 1,800 calories. I figured if he could do it eating crap, I could do it eating the same things I was eating, but adjusting the amounts to get as close to 1,800 calories/day. Now if you have been following this blog you’ll know that I am a gadget nerd and I just knew that using gadgets would greatly help me stay motivated and more involved in the diet process. Here is a full list of all things I have used during my time dieting to help me:

Gym

I have been a member at the local neighborhood YMCA for several years now. We have a family membership and all enjoy the activities and atmosphere. The only thing that sucks is that a bunch of people make new year resolutions and take up a lot of space in the month of January (thankfully a most never last more then a month).

Hardware

fitbit Wireless Trainer – Ever since I first saw this device announced I was interested in it. It is a pedometer and activity monitor. I actually purchased this device because of its ability to monitor your activity while sleeping (kind of a minimalist C-PAP monitor), but have enjoyed using it to track my daily activity and their website is great (but I’ll get to that in a second). If you use the link I provided you can get the fitbit rather quickly but will pay a premium for it (about $150 retail), however you order from fitbit.com you will only pay about $100, but beware that your direct order may be back-ordered for 2-3 months (as mine was).

Withings Wifi Body Scale – Alright I know what you may be thinking “$150 bucks for a scale!”, but this has been so crucial for me as I monitor my weight management progress. I have had a scale, but nothing that made me check back and regularly make weighing myself an enjoyable game. Plus their web interface is pure sweetness!

Timex Easy Trainer Heart Rate Monitor – Now this is a more recent addition to my equipment regimen, but it has been so great using it. There is a lot of evidence that using heart rate to tailor your workout is great for maximizing your workout efficiency (seriously just Google it). I love how the monitor automatically syncs with the treadmills I use at the YMCA. However I will say it takes a little getting used to the chest strap.

Nike+ Sport Band – This is even more new for me. I got this as a Christmas gift and have only gotten a chance to use it one time. Although the amount of workout detail it provides is awesome! I hope to come back to this post after more uses and provide additional details.

Websites

fitbit.com – So I totally just planned on using the fitbit website because I had the fitbit, but when I first ordered the fitbit there was a delay of several months I had to wait due to a large backorder. During my waiting for the device I regularly checked the website and found myself using it to track my daily calorie intake. This has been a great site for daily management of my food, activities, and fitbit statistics now that I have my fitbit.

withings.com – The withings website goes hand-in-hand with the withings scale. Their online experience is fantastic (it is a wifi scale after all), plus they have some great apps for smart phones too.

These are all things that have helped me make my weight loss challenge more of a game. In doing so they have assisted in keeping me motivated to continue changing my lifestyle. In reality it has been a change in my eating habits and working out habits that have led to weight loss.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. If you are considering adjusting your diet don’t do so based on my advice, talk to your doctor. While I do personally use all products above, the links provided are affiliate links that I earn credit for if you decide to purchase.

Resolutions

It seems apropos to make a new years resolution to be more active on this blog. Will I be able to add content here at the simple pace of once per week (basically I am shooting for 52 posts in the year 2011)? I honestly can’t be certain, but I can definitely try. I seem to be fairly good at these type of challenges. When looking back even over the last few years here are some of the challenges I have successfully conquered:

  • I quit smoking cold turkey January 25, 2007 and haven’t had a single cigarette since.
  • June 1, 2009 I challenged myself to quit drinking alcohol until the new year. I successfully made it to 2010, with my first drink being a glass of champagne with my lovely wife at the stroke of midnight.
  • On October 1, 2010 I decided to entirely stop drinking soda. I have successfully avoiding drinking soda ever since.

Here is to hoping for another challenge met and completed.

Since I am setting myself up I also thought I would take a minute to highlight some of my goals for 2011:

  • Graduate with a BS in Business Administration from Upper Iowa. After having started going nights in 2005 I am finally at the door steps of completion of my degree and couldn’t be happier!
  • Continue to advance my career. I am very happy to have the job I currently have, but am always interested in a new challenge. I would love to take on a new opportunity.
  • Meet my weight goal of 170 lbs (as of today I am at exactly 200 lbs).

In the Summer of 2010

What a summer it has been! Now that we are on the doorsteps of fall I just have to say that this has been an amazing summer. There are so many events that have transpired in my life that have made this one of the most memorable summers ever. To kick summer off (a very pregnant) Marcia, Gabe and I all spent a week in the Dells. We stayed at Hotel Rome which is connected to the Mt. Olympus theme park. The hotel accommodations were great and we all had a blast. I would highly recommend staying for anyone with family looking for an enjoyable Dells vacation.

In July we welcomed the newest addition to our family; Oliver George Tennyson. Oliver was born July 9th and you can read all about him at our family blog jasonandmarcia.com. I was so excited to be having a second child and couldn’t be happier with Oliver! It is funny though how much you forget about all the work that goes into babies. Overall he is a great baby and warms my heart with his joyful smile. It is amazing how much July flew by after Oliver was born…

In August I celebrated my 8 year wedding anniversary with Marcia Tennyson (aka the best wife in the world)! It is hard to believe that we have been married so long already; it still feels like we were just married a week ago. To celebrate we got tattoos that go together; she got an old fashioned skeleton key and I got a full chest piece that represented my family. Here is a picture:

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The stars represent my kids Gabe and Oliver. The padlock is my heart, and the key hole belongs to Marcia who owns the key to my heart. Both my tattoo and Marcia’s were done by Corey at Steve’s Tattoo in Madison, WI.

Over the course of the summer I also launched a company that focuses on helping people establish new friendships, networked with some awesome twitter personalities from the greater Madison area, and entered into my Senior year at Upper Iowa University.