Friday, August 30, 2013


A busy day, overall, for me. I got the kids up and took Delaney to school. Kendall felt sick, and I felt bad she got up, dressed, and ate before she gave up. She’s been struggling a bit, so I thought it was better she stayed home.

I’ve been struggling as well, and I couldn’t get going, deciding to just drive kids to school. I got back, ate a bit, and then off to work. I spent about an hour and a half finishing up the third feeder and then painting the tops with anti-cribbing paint. That gives me 3 done, plus one that needs feet and paint that’s been in use. I’ll put them out tomorrow.

I got stuff to make two more, but the weather interfered tonight. With rain coming down, I had to pack up. However I did manage to cut feet, legs, and bottoms for the other 2. I’ll see if I can work on them tomorrow.

I had a massage booked at noon, but I wanted to exercise before that. With the right knee being sore, I decided to try swimming. I grabbed my bag and headed to town. It’s been four or five years since I had a swim workout and did more than a couple hundred yards. I hit the pool, did a 50, and then pressed.

I was trying to keep form, and relax, and do 100s. They were hard and I decided not to overdo it. I managed 10x100 on the 2:30. It was taking about 1:40 for the first half, with :40 rest, and I slipped to 1:45, but kept going. I finished with some easy swimming for 1200 yards total, but I was tired.

My massage was good, not great, but I drifted off, which is always a good sign. Then it was back to do more woodworking, getting wood cut.

Tomorrow is a 10 mile hike, and I think I’m ready to call it a day and have a beer.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sore Knee

Actually both, but one is just scraped up from baseball. However the right one aches. Ached today driving around. I think I'm reduced to walking, maybe some swimming, and light work until I can get it looked out.

Now the debate. Accupuncture? Ortho? PT?

Lunch with my wife

I’m busy, lots to do and with vacation on Thur/Fri, I am stressing slightly today.

However when Tia asked me if I wanted to come to town and meet her for lunch, I jumped. We have both been busy, not a lot of time together, and it’s worth a little stress to spend time with her.

Work to do

With contractors not really responding, this is a project I need to tackle soon.



Not sure how, but I think I’ll learn as I go.


Last night was the Troop 636 Court of Honor for the end of summer. We’ve gotten a little off track, and this one was set to fill a meeting spot, and also get kids their awards from summer work. I agree since part of keeping kids in Scouts is motivating them with their progress.

In this case, we also had an Eagle Court of Honor, with three more boys achieving the highest rank. Tia sat in one the Board of Review for one of the boys, and all three have had impressive achievements in high school, with all of them being seniors this year. I hope that Delaney was inspired by them.

While we were getting food, one of the other Dads walked up to me in line and told me my son was “very, very polite” and he was impressed. He said Delaney was a fine young man as well. That means a lot, and while I think that’s what I should expect, it’s very nice to hear someone notice this. I need to remember that and tell other parents, because we have a very good group of boys in our troop.

Delaney helped run the Court, being one of the Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders. Good to see him up there, and all three boys did a good job. He called out some awards, and handled his role well.


He was also up for 2 merit badges, Personal Fitness and Communications. Both are Eagle required, and they move him closer to his goal.


He’s still short two for Life rank, but one is hiking and we’ll get the last hike in Saturday. He’s also a good ways into Personal Management. I think we can finish them in the next week with a little paperwork and he can email the counselors, perhaps getting things signed off before elections in two weeks.

We’re pressing so that he can serve the next six months as Senior Patrol leader and Life Scout, knocking out a couple of his Eagle requirements.

He’s also down to six more merit badges, all Eagle required:

  • Environmental Science (Started)
  • Family Life (barely started)
  • Camping (started)
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Personal Management (hopefully done this weekend)
  • Hiking (hopefully done this weekend)

I’m hoping that he’ll be ready to get his Eagle award at this time next year and I’ll press a little, but he’s got a busy year and I don’t want to overload him. I am, however, rooting for him.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I lifted a bit yesterday, taking it easy on the weights, but lots of reps. Just bench and incline, but I feel sore today and it feels good. I like that feeling of working out.

The knees are sore, and I suspect I need to have them looked at, at least the right one. The left one just has a good scrape on it. Another walk today, but a good sweat.

Dentist Day

I hate the dentist. I can feel my shoulders and neck tense up every time the appointment comes up. Today was that day, and I dreaded heading over there all morning, distracting me from work a bit.

I have to say this was one of the smoother trips. The cleaning was fast, which made up for a slow start. Everything looked good, only a couple 4s on my gum check. The dentist liked things and not much plaque. I must be doing something right.

Monday, August 26, 2013

End of a Season

Yesterday was our last baseball game of the season. There’s a post season tournament and we’ll play in two weeks, but I don’t think we’ll get beyond the first game.

I was looking forward to the last game, and also relieved the season is over as health has been an issue. Both arms, and one leg, have bothered me this year. I thought with less running I’d do better, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s the case.

We had the early game, and it was hot. No shade in the dugout and I was a long three hours. With 11, I ended up at second for the game, which was fine with me. I didn’t get any hits to me, but I chased some in the outfield for relays and managed to get a throw for a double play, but couldn’t turn it in time. The guy was fast and I was slow turning and pulling the ball out of my glove. I was glad I wasn’t at short for most of the game as they guy there bobbled a couple, but made 3 plays, including a tight one that I couldn’t have gotten there quickly.

We played a team that I mostly like, but they have a catcher who is a bit of a dirty player, and who I played with a few years back. I wouldn’t want to play with him again, for a few reasons. One is how he blocked the plate, without the ball, stepping into the path of a runner and almost causing a collision yesterday. He also dove into first, coming inside the line to try and take out the first baseman. The first out of the 9th had me at short when we changed pitchers. The second baseman got a grounder (finally) and I was running over. The toss was too early, and I reached down to grab it, slowing, and when I came up, the runner was sliding. I jumped, and he hit my feet, flipping me over onto the ground. I was fine, but my knees knocked together, which hurt. It was a hard collision, and unnecessary. Just crappy play.

At the plate I was 1-5, with 2 ks. One was a great “fool me” pitch, the second was a bad swing. I popped up twice, once from each side of the plate and had a weak bouncing grounder along the first base line. I chased it down, and the pitcher fell to his knees to pick it up and I managed to beat it out.

That was the middle of a sore knee. I ended up getting to run for a few people, including going first to home across a couple batters, only to immediately head back to first to run again. Another time, with a runner on third, I dreaded stealing. I let two pitches go (one ball, one foul) and then took off on the next. It was a hit and I’d have had to hustle, but I was definitely sore this morning from the running.

A good ending to the season with a nice win. Now looking forward to 2 weeks off, and then I think I’ll try to throw regularly over the winter and heal/strengthen the arms.

Book #51–Fool Me Twice

51IM-SzuJNL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I loved the Jesse Stone series from Robert Parker and was sad to think it ended with his death. Apparently it hadn’t, as I saw Fool Me Twice at the library, written by an author approved by his estate. Spenser lives on as well, with a different author.

In this one we have a series of intertwined stories. Stone has a run in with a rich girl that has no respect for the law and causes a car accident while texting. He has to deal with her parents, while also managing a movie shoot. We see the ex-husband of the starlet on a mission, and also Crow coming in to bodyguard the starlet.

It’s a series of twists, which remind me of Parker, but the tension, the thoughtfulness and insight of Stone isn’t there. Not sure what the exact different is, but I don’t feel this has the depth of the Parker books. I enjoyed it, but it felt disappointing. Especially after I thought Atkins did a great job continuing the Spenser character.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Book #50–Einstein: His Life and Universe

51W6veF9DzL._AA160_I see quotes from Einstein all the time and he seems like a very interesting person. After reading the Jobs biography, I grabbed Einstein: His Life and Universe by the same author, Walter Isaacson.

It was eye-opening. Not at all what I expected. I had never quite been sure when Einstein had lived, and didn’t know much about him. I learned a lot, though no great, amazing quotes came out of the book. Instead it’s a look back at a man that grew up with engineers in his family, loved math and physics. He was good, but not great, though he managed to get through university with high marks.

I found out he ended up at the patent office because he couldn’t get a job. He worked there and still worked on physics, producing his amazing relativity theory. There were lots of revelations, and a lot of insight into the man. How religion didn’t play a strong role, but it did play a role in his life. He was even offered the presidency of Israel at one point. I had no idea.

The book drags a bit, but it’s fascinating. Einstein was an amazing physicist and scientist, but also a deeply flawed man. As with Jobs, I’m not sure if I admire him or not, but I was a bit amazed by his life.

An educated mind

I have semi-followed the Manning trial and his conviction. I don’t have all the details, and I just can’t spare the time to follow everything.

However I did come across this piece from the ACLU and it makes me question how our government is treating people. We ought to debate and discuss this, without some of the offensive and ridiculous comments listed on the piece. Instead, an intelligent debates needs to take place. I ran across this quote today:

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

I find too often that we refuse to entertain the notion of a conflicting thought, dismissing it at face value because of our beliefs. Conflicting things, entertaining possibilities does not detract from your beliefs. If anything, defending your position strengthens it.

As I understand it, Manning leaked documents from a variety of areas, and admitted that. It is a violation of military law to do so. He accepted that, and was willing to take punishment. However, some of his documents paint a disturbing picture of how the military has treated prisoners, it’s own forces, and sown disinformation to not only enemies, but it’s fellow US citizens.

We have whistleblower laws for a reason. There are times when the legal protections an entity has against disclosure must be broken for the greater good. Even inside the military, subordinate officers can remove superior officers from command. It is an action that should not be taken lightly, and it is a gamble. A mistake in choosing to do so means the person taking action can be punished.

In Manning’s case, I don’t know if he endangered any lives, but I’ve heard he did not. I also suspect that some of what he brought to light needed to be shown. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he ought to not receive some punishment, but we ought to debate how much, and to what extent what he did needed to be done.

I don’t have the knowledge to intelligently do that, and I think a large number of people are in my situation, yet would immediately classify Manning as either a patriot or traitor, without examining the fundamental issues disclosed by the leaks. I hope that groups like the ACLU bring enough pressure to force serious examination and review of what has happened.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book #49–Empire

51xAm7gg5oL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-57,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I wasn’t sure what would happen after the fifth book, but I couldn’t resist waiting any longer. I grabbed Empire and started in.

In this one there’s the beginnings of peace. Or is there? Riggs has a battle station, which is incapacitated by the lobsters, but is still strong enough to defend the first Macro attack.

However he has issues with Earth. Crow has taken over, declared an Empire, and is determined to keep Riggs away. When he gets to the Worm system, he finds transports leaving Earth, but under attack by Earth fleet. With the help of the Worms, he stops them, but he’s made new enemies. He wonders if it was worth the 20,000 lives he saved.

He still has his factories, and now more troops, but he has Macro and Lobster forces coming from one ring and Earth fleet from the other. How does he get out? Riggs always has a trick, and this was another one I hadn’t expected. This kept me on the edge of my seat.


This is sad.

The idea that we value safety and security more than privacy and liberty is indeed a departure from the country and Constitution that I believe in.


I heard the alarm go off this morning.


I struggled to get up. Last night was an example of what I need to do more often. Got the kids home, homework going, Kyle cooking dinner (which was highly appreciated by me and enjoyed by the kids), and then Tia and I had date night. Out for Greek food and a bottle of wine.

However, when I realized I was up 15 minutes late, I gave up on hurrying, got Delaney up to shower and found Kendall wondering why I was late. I made breakfast, unhurried, and then we were late.

Partly Delaney not packing his stuff up last night, partly me not pushing a little more.

Ugh, the start of the school year is always hard.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book #48–Battle Station

51VNztu7E6L._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU01_SS100_The fifth book in the Star Force series is Battle Station. Kyle Riggs has a dream. A battle station that can defend the star system against the Macros. He decides to work on this, but first he must set up a buffer. He returns to the Centaur system, where the Blues also live and the Macros have a stronghold.

With the help of the Centaurs he captures not only a planet, but one of the large Macro factories, dramatically increasing his ability to produce new ships. It’s a long set of battles, the microbes return, Marvin is as elusive as ever and we get our first chance to find out about the Blues.

The battle station doesn’t get built, but it gets going in this book.


Last night we picked up Kendall and Delaney from sports and ran Kendall out to physical therapy for her ankle. While she was there, Delaney and I went school supply shopping and as we walked out, he said he was a little dizzy. By the time we picked up everyone, he was feeling bad. We thought he had dehydrated himself and got him gatorade and then he lay in our bed sleeping when we got home. HE complained about a headache and we got him a few things, but he had a rough night.

We let him sleep today until about noon.

Hopefully he's better. The beginning of school is always a tough adjustment.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book #47–Conquest

51VykcjoEUL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-48,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Conquest is the fourth book of the Star Force series. Riggs returns to Earth, where he is in conflict with Crow and the space forces. He’s got Sandra to watch his back, but he’s also struggling to keep Star Force intact as Crow has been consolidating and building his empire.

The Macros are back as well, looking to attack Earth. When Riggs manages to save Earth, he puts Star Force and Andros Island in their path, but has a few tricks up his sleeve. It’s a new type of warfare, and one that’s quite a ride in this book.

You really need to read these books in order, but I was fascinated at how easy, and how hard, the war is with these machines.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Baseball Train Wreck

We had an early baseball game yesterday. I hadn’t played in a few weeks, and was feeling rusty. I had to leave early as well for volleyball tryouts, so I was slightly stressed. I needn’t be, as we had 12, so it wasn’t a big deal.

We warmed up, and my arm was slightly sore, which had me worried. However I took my spot at short to see what happened. In the first inning, we got 2 quick outs, then a walk. Then a grounder to third that jumped up and was bobbled. Two runners on. A hit, and then another, and we were down runs and people on base. A short grounder to me that I messed up, bobbling it as well. The left side of the infield didn’t look good.

It got worse. Second messed up a play, and we were down 5 or 6 when we got through with the first half inning. We went down 1-2-3 and headed back out into the sun. The second inning wasn’t better. A blooper over my head, which I think I’d have gotten if I hadn’t shaded to second. Then another one, and another bobble on my part. I’m not sure why I couldn’t field, but I struggled to cleanly pick up balls.

I batted in the 3rd, with people on base and decided to go left handed. The elbow hurt, but I was tired of grounders to third. One pitch, one swing, and a decent hit to the outfield, but too high and it was caught.

I messed up another grounder later, and never ended up making a play at short in 5 innings when I had to leave.

We were down over 15 and it was a wreck of a game. Hopefully next week will be better.


We spent the last two weekends at volleyball tryouts for a club team. It didn’t work out, but Tia scheduled a few more, including two yesterday. I had an early baseball game, and then met Tia, Kyle, and Kendall at the facility for 303 Volleyball.

It was an open gym, with lots of girls that are on the 13 year old 1s and 2s teams. I wasn’t aware, thinking there were a few spots open and this was a competition. Quite a few girls were really good, but I found out later that many of them were on the team already.

Kendall Setting

Kendall had a rough start, and was nervous, but when they moved out of drills and into some game situations, she shined. With her setting, she impressed the coaches.

Afterwards, they offered her a spot. They were unsure of if she should be with the 1s, and develop as a hitter, or if she should be with the 2s, get more playing time, and do more setting. It was a choice, and she was leaning towards the 2s.

She and I went to eat, and then decided to go to the second tryout for 5280 Volleyball. Kendall was uneasy, and didn’t want to go for some reason, but later she was glad she did. This was more of a tryout, with relatively few girls (10), of all ages. Some were younger, some older.

It moved slow, and I wasn’t thrilled with the organization, but after about an hour they pulled us out to talk to us. They offered her a spot on the 13 1s team. It’s a travel team, which means that in addition to a $2.5k fee for local tournaments, training, and uniforms, we’d cover costs for a trip to Omaha and either MN or FL at the end of the season. However Kendall as excited and thrilled.

We talked about it last night. We want more info from 303VB and Kendall also has a tryout/private lesson with Momentum volleyball on Thursday. Looks like a busy sports year for my little girl.

Book #46–Rebellion

51CcdNmUIlL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU01_SS100_I’ve gotten caught up in the Star Force series. It’s easy writing and reading, not too in depth, but it does present a really interesting look at the future when aliens have invaded.

In Rebellion, Kyle Riggs and the Star Force marines have just managed to escape the Worm colony in the Macro’s ship, only to learn they are headed to another battle, not Earth. They’re upset, but Riggs knows that reasoning and pleading with the Macro machines won’t work. He buckles down, prepares his marines and then learns a few things.

First he finds that a new species, the Centaurs, are in orbital habitats above planets where the Macros are mining the minerals. He realizes that the Centaurs negotiated a peace, and the Macros respect that, but they found a loophole by using the humans to attack the Centaurs.

What follows is an interesting look at inter-species diplomacy, during a war. Riggs manages to get out, and turn the tables, attacking the Macro ships. It’s a rebellion, one that will force Earth back into war.

All Together

As I was flying home from NY last week, Kyle arrived in Denver. He’s back home, looking to finish his degree in CO and then move on with life. Tia and the little kids, who aren’t so little, picked him up.




The kids were happy to see each other, and hung out quite a bit over the weekend as Tia and I were busy. Good to have everyone together.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Twenty Miles

We live near Twenty Mile Road. I guess it’s a leftover from when the railroad or some other stop was 20 miles from downtown Denver. Fitting that we walked by it yesterday, doing a 20 mile hike with the Scouts. We started just after 7:30 in the morning, leaving from the Pinery.


Some of our larger group did a 20 miler at Philmont Scout Ranch this summer, and there were really 4 boys left. One was out of town, so it was six of us beginning the day. Delaney and another boy got ahead of us and stayed in front for most of the hike.


We were all doing well. We did 6 miles, then a short stop while a few of us adjusted our feet. I’d worn tennis shoes instead of my hiking boots, which was a mistake. I used some Vaseline, as Tia suggested, but it made my moleskin slip off my feet. I ended up wiping it off and using band-aids and moleskin on some spots that were hot.

We then went through our first half, going about 9.5 miles up the trail to Cottonwood. Our plan was a detour on the way back, so we thought this would work. One of our adults was slowing down, with a sore foot, but still doing well as we walked back and up to the Cold Stone ice cream shop. We arrived, with my tracker reading about 12 miles.


The experienced rangers at Philmont had said that breaks should be < 5 minute or > 20 minutes, so we took a longer one here, getting some ice cream, a little water, and some air conditioning. It was starting to get hot at this point, but after about 25 minutes we headed out again.

Going back South was familiar, and easy for a bit, but it got harder. I could feel my legs getting tight and anything other than a walk was hard. Bending over, stretching, everything was tight. I was regretting not hiking more in prep.

We got down to about 14 miles and took another short break, waiting for our last two to catch up. They kept going, at their slower pace, as we had a 10 minute break.


At 15 miles we lost one adult, who had a sore foot. He stopped at a trailhead and called his wife. We took his son and pressed on. Once again, Delaney and his friend were at the front. They’d stop to wait for us in a few places, but quickly went ahead. They finished at about 7:20:00 and sat down to rest.

Delaney looked good when I jogged up (I only jogged the last 50 feet or so) at 7:30:00 ish.


It was a long day, and a hard one. We left soon, stopping for water and a big diet coke. Delaney got a Chipotle burrito, but when I stopped to get gas, I realized I was hungry. I didn’t want to walk, with sore feet and angry hip flexors, so I pulled through McDonalds, thinking I’d earned it. Delaney was still hungry and got fries.

We got home, and he went to lay down. I dropped ice on my knee, grabbed a beer, and put 4” of cold water in the tub, soaking a bit.


I didn’t do much the rest of the night. Both of us pretty much lay in bed. Sunday I was still sore, but walking around at Kendall’s volleyball and later helped loosen things up. The right knee is sore today, but the aches and sore spots are minor issues.

Quite a day. Hard, but a great feeling of accomplishment.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fun, but sore

A good volleyball night last night. Only 10 people most of the time, and a few games with less, so I was moving. Had a few good hits, some bad ones, lots of good sets, and I blew a bunch of bumps. Not sure what it was, but I sent way too many off to the side.

After 3 weeks, it was good to hit the ball a bit.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book #45–Extinction

51BDDj3mX8L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-48,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The Earth was saved in Swarm, but there’s a price to be paid. 65 tons of marines need to be sent in a year with the Macro forces. Kyle Rigg spends time preparing and building, with the idea that he’ll lead them into space.

The book is really the marines adventure in invading another world, one with giant sentient worms that live underground, in a way that prevents the Macro forces from easily dislodging them. The book follows Rigg’s marines as they battle on a foreign planet, perhaps to Extinction.

An exciting book, one that keeps you entranced with the tale, and also has me worried about poorly equipped humans might be if aliens arrived. Especially as we don’t do enough basic science and research into space.

The book ends with another thrill, leaving you wanting book 3 as soon as you finish.


Today we took the kids to register them for the next school year. Delaney was first, and despite our forgetting to bring a checkbook, Tia managed to have enough cash to cover the various fees.

We’re slightly worried about Delaney’s load, but he wants to try it. He’s registered for:

  • Orchestra (always first on his list)
  • Spanish I
  • Weight Training
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Pre-calculus
  • Lit and Comp
  • AP European History

That’s a lot of work, and with cross country and scouts, it’s going to be a busy year for this boy.

I’m not sure what Kendall is registered for. We were more concerned with volleyball, or at least I was, and didn’t see a class list. Tia didn’t see one either, so we may have missed things. We did sign her up for volleyball, and she has Mon/Tue/Wed tryouts next week. Only 24 make the A and B teams, so there are cuts. However she looked great at their camp, and she’ll go through tryouts for club volleyball this weekend, so I’m sure she’ll be well prepared.

iOS v Android–A Short Term Update

I ordered my first new new phone this year. I’ve never purchased a new, unreleased model of a cell phone before. I’ve gotten some nice phones, but always 6-12 months after other people have had a chance to use, review, and complain about them. However my wife’s Galaxy S3 was nice enough that I was willing to consider changing from an iPhone (4S) to Android.

I went to the store and tested a Note 2 and a Galaxy S4, comparing them with the iPhone 5. I liked the S4 enough in some initial toying around in the store after probably 45 minutes across a few trips. I decided to give it a try. I had a lot of friends with the Note 2 that liked the device, but the size worried me slightly since I’m traveling regularly. The S4 seemed like a nice upgrade from the 4S and large enough to use.

I pre-ordered the phone from Verizon, before it was available, and it arrived a day earlier than I expected it. As with many modern devices, it was fairly intuitive to get turned on, powered up, and switched onto my service. Verizon has made this part really easy.

Within a couple days I realized that battery life was an issue. I’ve had a Mophie case on the iPhone and that’s allowed me to last through long conference days. I wasn’t getting through days at home (though I was close) with the standard battery. I ordered a 5200mWA battery replacement for the S4, which was cheap and arrived in a few days. It’s thicker than the original battery, but it came with a new back that fit nicely on the device. Not only does the device now last all days, usually with > 20% battery after long days, but it also fits nicely in the same holster that carried my 4S/Mophie case.

It took me a few days to get used to Android, though much of the setup is similar and as easy as the iPhone. Google Play works as well as the App Store, though it responds much quicker. Background downloads, updates, and notifications are better.

However overall I have a mixed reaction to the device. I’ll talk about things I like and things I don’t, and give my impressions. I’m not trying to be objective here, or give you deep technical differences. I really don’t care about those. I care about how the phone works as a multi-use device for work and personal life.

Note that in my past Smartphone experience, I’ve had a Sidekick, a blackberry (original, very briefly), a Windows 6 device, an Android 1.5/1.6 G1, iPhones 3, 3S, 4, 4S, and now this device. My wife has had a G1, G3, iPhone, and newer (non touch) Blackberries I’ve used. I used iOS 4, 5, 6 on devices.


Screen – The screen on the S4 is amazing. It’s way beyond the 4S and G3. No contest. Even for a guy that doesn’t think HD is always worth the money and has no interest in 4K for media, this screen is amazing. At times I’m in awe of it. Blows away any monitor, TV, or laptop I’ve had away, including the brand new Lenovo T430 I have.

Notifications – I’ve been jealous of my wife’s notifications bar and window for some time. It’s just way better than the iOS stuff. I use it all the time, and it makes it easy to find what’s been happening on my device. I especially love the ability to get to Bluetooth, GPS, etc. at the top. I turn those on/off all the time.

Keyboard – Swype is amazing. I have tried a few keyboards, but I love the Swype one and it makes it much easier to “type” one handed. If iOS had this I might never have even considered another phone. It’s freaking amazing how well it works and how fast I can compose things. It’s better for short messages than long notes, but it works really, really well.

Selecting Text – Hands down, this crushes iOS. If I select the wrong spot, I can move the pointer easily. iOS could learn here. I still double tap to paste, and if the text is at the beginning or paragraphs, I sometimes can’t get to the top, but overall it’s great.

Widgets – Having larger widgets, and not just icons, on screens, is great. I don’t have a lot of needs, and I’ve found lots of junk widgets, but I have a few I like. I hope iOS adopts this.

Wi-Fi on/off – Dirt simple, and in notifications, I can turn it on very easy with one press.

Navigation – True GPS, and the turn-by-turn directions are amazing. They warn me of changes, and the display shows me what’s next (turn, merge, etc.) AND shows me what’s after that. In unfamiliar cities, this is very pleasing.

Google Now – Not perfect, maybe not great, but neat. If I drop appointments for things like hotels, it gives me one click navigation. Weather’s handy, sports scores, it’s a nice service. Saves me time.

Voice – Better than Siri. I don’t use it a lot, but it works better for me.

Speaker – I debated where this goes. The speaker is better, but it’s on the bottom, so I need a surface or cupped hand to hear it at times. Mixed emotions, but overall it’s a much better speaker.


Touch response – My wife swears it’s good, but for someone that has enjoyed the crisp, immediate response of iOS, it’s not there. It’s good, it’s nothing like older models, including my G1, but it’s still behind the iOS/iDevice integration. My wife thinks Android might be multi-tasking at times, but that’s annoying to me. Sometimes things are slow to select, or they’re hard to select with my fingers, or there’s a delay that causes me to do something else and I get messed up in my phone interactions. After months, I’m still bugged by this.

Back Button – The “back” button on Android is handy. However on the S4 it’s a soft button. And it’s in the lower right. I can’t tell you how many times my palm has come close enough to this to trigger it. This is especially true when I’m doing things one handed. It’s not constant, but it happens enough to annoy me. This should be a hard button, IMHO.

Camera – The camera works great, but a few things. One, it doesn’t remember the last mode I selected. Two, when I take pictures, the music stops briefly. A couple annoyances with the way it works, but those are rare, so they’re not worth complaining about. (if you must know, I don’t always know when a picture is taken, the camcorder seems to have a weird delay in starting and I sometimes don’t realize it has/hasn’t started, taps don’t seem as crisp as in iOS).

Music – The built in music app is crap, but when I loaded all my iOS music (unconverted) onto the SD card, it played it. However the performance, the display, the integration with the OS aren’t great. I’ll also note that I use Spotify, Pandora, Google Play, and they have inconsistent integration with the OS. when I open the lock screen, sometimes I can pause/forward music, most times I can’t. That always worked in iOS. For me, this is a major fail since it can be slow to turn off or pause music. In addition, sometimes when I yank headphones or kill my headset to get music off (like at airport security), it starts playing from the speaker. Maddening.

Lock Screen – This has been one of the most annoying things. A smartphone needs a security lock. If for no other reason than to prevent a friend from posting something stupid on Twitter/FB, texting, etc. If I enable this, then I lose the ability to get quick access to my camera. I’ve tried a few third party locks, but they are slow to open for the camera. I like taking pictures, and speed matters here. The quick flick up of iOS to take a picture and quick launch worked great. This feels like a generation or two step backwards. This might be the most annoying thing to me.

App Quality – I’ve probably only installed 20 apps on this phone. There were the 12 or so that I really cared about, and 3 were the reason WP8 didn’t make my list. Most of the apps I’ve installed were copies of apps I had on iOS.

Quality is worse. I can’t quite explain it, but I think coding is worse, as I have regular crashes of apps. The S4 itself might be to blame as it’s restarted itself in an abend 4 or 5 times since I’ve had it. That never happened on iOS. I probably rebooted with a power off, the 4S once every 4 or 5 months. It just worked and rarely did apps crash.

I find navigation (in menus) weird in some apps, I find behaviors strange and annoying, and overall quality seems worse. It’s not horrible, and I may have a crash every couple or three days, but they’re annoying.

As a few examples, Bejeweled crashes every other day, the Kindle app once a week or so. Evernote at times. However the Twitter app sometimes lets me quickly press and get a reply/retweet list, sometimes it doesn’t (see touch response above). If I select a note in Evernote, I can’t press on the note to edit. I need to pick the edit button, then press on the note. I know that’s an Evernote decision, but it affects me, on Android and not on iOS. Things like that are examples of strangeness. Spotify behaves well, but operates in ways that aren’t intuitive for me and I need to think about things. That’s not what I want in a smartphone.

Screen Rotations – A minor thing, but an annoying part of iOS was that I’ve get 4 or 5 screens of apps and I had to scroll through them to find things. I started searching, but that felt slow as well. My wife’s G3 has 4 or 5 screens, but if you keep flicking to one side, it goes through all of them, rotating from the last to the first, as in a circle of screens. iOS didn’t do this, with a linear layout of screens, and the S4 is like that. Annoying. Going from screen 1 to screen 5 is annoying, both on the S4 and in iOS.

The Future

The things the S4 does well, it does really, really well. The things I dislike are little annoyances, but they add up to constant minor irritation for me. I’d trade some of the great things to get rid of the annoyances.

I’ve decided I’m going to give the S4 to my wife when my 6 month commitment is up. She’s still drooling over it and I don’t have enough of a reason to keep it. In the short term my expectation is that I’ll try the G3 and if I don’t like it, go back to the iPhone 4S.

However, I am looking at what Apple does with iOS7 and any device updates later this year, and I’m keeping an eye on the Windows Phone devices. I’m tempted to buy a used WP8 device and give that a try. I like the interface from limited experience and the new direction (iOS/Android feel similar) intrigues me.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Western Europe

Delaney had to start homework this week. He's in AP European History next year and they had summer homework, which we picked up on Monday. I ordered him a book and he had to do a few things, one of which was a map of Western Europe. Last night he lay in bed with Tia and I, and we quizzed each other on where countries were and their capitals as we filled out the map.

It's amazing how the world has changed since I was a kid. Latvia, Lithuania, and more didn't exist when I was in school. Some of the capitals are cities I'd never heard of. It was a good refresher and interesting to learn a few things.

However I wonder. Does it matter if more people know where countries are and their geography? Is society better? I can't decide if this is an intellectual snobbery exercise or there is some richness that comes from better knowing our world.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Busy Day at Work

Tia left early and I went to work. I've been fighting a bit of a cold, so I wasn't in too much of a hurry to get going, but I did get moving with some coffee and sat down to work. Of course I had things broken and the newsletter hadn't gone out, so I spent time fussing with that.

Then I realized I was still behind from last week. Lots of stuff ran out today, so I had a bunch of editing and writing to get done to be ready for tomorrow. If I'm not mostly done with the newsletter a couple days in advance, I get nervous, and I am about out of content.

Now it's 5, scouts in an hour, and I need to cook. I'm guessing I'll try for a walk tonight after scouts to get moving a bit.

One good thing is the kids were helpful today. They went out and fed horses this morning without any complaints when I asked. Proud of them.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Night Baseball

Last night was our second night game of the season and I am sure I don’t like playing at night. What was a treat as a kid is somewhat scary when you are older.

In the first inning, first batter, I had a hard grounder hit to third. I picked it up on my right, across the body, barely seeing it. I wasn’t completely sure I’d gotten it. When I looked up and turned to throw to first, I glanced into the lights and let loose with an arcing throw. It made it, but I was nervous. In the 4th, I was playing deep and got a hard grounder. It was to my right, but I was deep. The problem was that the ball came off the green turf, into the brown dirt, and I slightly lost sight of the dirty baseball. I hit it and bobbled it, missing a play. Not great.

I didn’t bat, still resting the sore arms, but I was careful about where I played. Near the end of the game, as it was darker, I crept up, not wanting to try and pick up the dirtier balls off the brown dirt.

In the end it didn’t matter. I made a few plays at third, and bobbled one, and my slow throw on a slow bouncer didn’t get a guy. We almost missed a popup that I assumed was for short, and he assumed I’d get it. As a result, he barely made it. Other than that, not much other than watching too many people run by me and score. Our pitching failed and we lost 15-5 in 8. A good game for 6 innings.

Still fun, and I enjoy playing, but I’m beat up a bit. Both arms are slightly sore, and the right throwing arm definitely got tighter as it got cooler last night. Another reason I didn’t love the night game.

Off next week and then 3 more to end the season.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Home Depot Day

I had plans to work around the ranch today, and I did. After getting up and having some coffee, I drew up some plans, headed to Home Depot, bought new supplies and went to work.

The basic slow grazing horse feeder. Now we just need a top to hold the hay down.


Friday, August 2, 2013

I Hesitate to Commit

At work my boss this week my boss gave me some quotes about me. We solicit feedback twice a year from co-workers and use that to evaluate how employees are doing. This goes up and down the chain, so everyone from the CEO down gets anonymous quotes.

A few of mine were that I am pleasant and helpful and always looking to do things when people ask.

My boss laughed, and said those obviously weren’t from her. They weren’t because she has to struggle with me to get me to do new things. I get a lot done and don’t need management, but I hesitate to tackle new projects or agree to get them done. She has to ask me more than a few times and remind me if I haven’t committed.


Here’s a great example of why:

Hard Earned Lessons Spots - Raw

I wrote an article recently on disaster recovery. One of the marketing people wanted some video ad spots to use. A 30s one and a 1 minute one. She asked me, and I said I might be able to. My boss asked, and reminded me a few times. I didn’t commit because of time. I think she, probably everyone, wondered how hard is it to make a 30s spot?

During out meeting she reminded me that I had said I’d try to get it done by this Friday (today). I explained I’d try, but not promises.

I took a 2 paragraph script, 10 things and an opening and closing and had to work with it for 30-45 minutes. I practiced it, timed it, realized it was long and had to cut it to a few versions. I finally felt comfortable and loaded it into the prompter.

I went to shoot it, thinking this would be a 5 minute effort like my podcasts. It was 12+ minutes of video, along with some setup to move things around, and then a nice 30 minutes of editing to cut out the green corner, check audio, cut out the mistakes, etc. and just send the raw 3 versions over.

With the issues in loading the video to the computer, this was 2+ hours out of my day and frustrating, but also funny.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Book #44–Swarm

51sQqqnS zL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-47,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I read a few other books by Larson, and when I saw a new series, I decided to give it a try. I grabbed a sample of Swarm, but didn’t finish it before I just bought the book.

It’s a sci-fi adventure, one of those “how does an ordinary man react” features. A professor is in bed and sees a UFO over his house. It’s massive, and it grabs one of his kids, pulling him inside. A few minutes later the kid is ejected, dead as he hits the ground. The professor, Kyle Riggs, sees the same result with his second kid. What a horrible way to start a book.

Riggs is pulled in and realizes he’s in a test when he kills an alien and the ship provides him with more challenges. Eventually he completes them and he has command of the ship. Limited command, but command. The book proceeds as Riggs learns that 700 of these ships are over the US, some with command personnel and some without, still grabbing people and testing them.

It’s an amazing story, one where we follow Riggs’ journey as he must learn to deal with the ship, with the other ship captains, with the governments of the US, and yes, more aliens. Other aliens are attacking Earth, and this is quite the story of how we end up at war with aliens.

The second book is even more amazing and disturbing.

No Braces

The annual Orthodontist checkup for the kids. Once again things look OK, no worsening, but since they're still growing, we are holding off again.

Check again next August.

Helping the Homeless

Touching, bringing tears to my eyes as well


The Double Workout

Yesterday was a long day. I was tired, not having gotten enough sleep. I had a lot of work to do, and it was a busy day. Around 3:30, I got Delaney out for a run, which was more walk than run with him, but we did move through 3 miles. I got back and went back to work, knocking off a few more items I needed to get done.

And then I went to yoga. I hadn’t been in over two weeks, and despite a few sun salutes while traveling, I was missing the time. We had a new instructor, doing lots of lunges, which I don’t love, and didn’t help my aching knee, but it felt good to sweat and work.

I was ready for bed last night.