12/7/2014

Hello all, John here.

Argh, again neglected you all for 2 months…  bloggers curse– When we have stuff to write about not enough time, and when we have time, nothing to write about.  Ugh.

Anyhow, All is well here.  We did loose another tenant.  Lease was up, and she chose to move on to a bigger yard for their growing family.  I can understand that.  They left the place almost as good as they were given it, and we only need to do a few repairs and some touch up.  Finally, not a total disaster… Which is good, as financially we couldn’t have dealt with another complete remodel this year…

Hopefully we will have the For Rent Sign up Monday or Tuesday.  I am a little cautious though, we haven’t had to rent one this late in the year yet, so hopefully we get it filled quickly…

On to other things, Derek has been the skating queen, and has his big Christmas Show coming up.  I am sure he will do just fine, though he seems quite concerned about it.  He enjoys it, but sometimes I think he gets a little too involved…

Work has been, well work.  Still not thrilled with the company, but I have made some progress at positive change, as well as some progress on the Apple front.  I am not sure where it is going to go, but I am trying to make the best of it even though most days I come home and feel like I just went through war.  When I decided I was done with trucking, and went back to school, one of the driving factors was the passion for ones work and the level of expertise that one could surround himself with to continue to grow.  Sadly, in transportation I felt that I was nearing the end of being able to learn new things, and better myself–  The challenges were gone, and most of what I did, as well as what I could see on the horizon to do would be repetitive, and challenges that have already been overcome.  In IT, I find lots of new challenges, lots and lots of things to learn, at times it tends to be very overwhelming, and I have found a few people that I can gain new perspectives from…  Anyhow I am going to stop there before I digress into land of negativity…  I am trying to be a more positive person, but those who know me, know how difficult that can be!

Good news is I passed another Apple Cert today.  Apple released the ACA for 10.10 Yosemite.  It really isn’t a very difficult test, and is done non-proctored.  I am not looking forward to the ACSP and ACTC renewals, which I expect in March…  I have pre-ordered the books already, but they are not quite released yet.

I also am starting a new course on Lynda.com (a training site that has all sorts of very good training– it cost $25.00 a month for unlimited access, which is really cheap in the scheme of IT training).  The course is focused on the UNIX command line, and using Unix with OS X.  Now, I get most people simply don’t care, even if you are in IT, but having a good understanding of what is going on “under the hood” if you will, is pretty valuable, and one of my projects at work is assisting in the development of a product around Macintosh Managed Services.  A Large part of that will deal with the ability to send scripts against these machines remotely, and having a greater understanding of that will make or break the idea…

 

Anyhow, I wanted to get something written.  I should go down and help Derek for a while…  Hope all is well with everyone!

 

John

 

Posted in Des Moines, IA | Leave a comment

10/5/2014

Greetings from a nice sunny fall day in Iowa..

Temps got into the upper 60’s today – felt pretty good with the sun out.  Its the type of weather where you can’t decide if you should wear a sweatshirt outside or not..

I’m really stiff and store this evening.  Was planning on heading to KoKo Fit Club for a work out yet tonight, but decided against it because of the soreness I feel.  Two weeks ago I took a fitness test at the gym, and they calculated my strength went up 26%.  Now the work out sessions have me lifting heavier weights.  Can do it but I feel the burn…. then feel sore the next day..

One of the KoKo Training Machines.

One of the KoKo Training Machines.

Have also been doing lots of ice skating.  Taking lessons at two places – Buccaneer arena and at Metro Ice.  Both places take different approach to the lessons – feel like I’m getting well rounded training.  I’ve had almost every skating coach in Des Moines at one time or another.  Think my skating ability is kind of a “community project”.

Practice time at Buccaneer Arena

Practice time at Buccaneer Arena

I’m also preparing a new “Adult Light Entertainment” routine for the Cyclone Country Championship being held in Ames on November 8th.  Attending “club ice” time so I can block out the routine and practice the different elements in it.  This is the third routine I’ve done -so it is starting to feel like a step by step process.

Not much else going on… I’m heading off to watch TV for a bit…

 

 

Posted in Des Moines, IA | 1 Comment

9/27/2014

Wholly Crap.  I had no idea it’s been this long since we posted.  Wow.  Sorry all.

Summer in general has been a bit of a whirlwind.  Weather here in Iowa wasn’t great for most of it…  We haven’t really camped anywhere all summer…  I blame it on work and Derek’s constant Ice Skating.

I guess the big news is we flipped another apartment.  We lost a tenant at the end of last month, our last “inherited” tenant.  In general they were good people, and always paid on-time, but…  It was time for them to go too.  Near the end of June I got into a bit of an argument with him over his “third” car.  Our lease specifically limits number of vehicles– we don’t have that much parking room.  I had made an exception for him as did the last owner.  In short he wanted to get another car, and I said no.  This is also the same one who we let store “2” bikes that multiplied to 7, and had similar issues with.  The lease came due at the end of August, and I simply did not want to deal with more confrontation, and I ended it.

Of course they didn’t make it easy–  The left another disaster for us to clean up.  No effort at cleaning, and total disrespect for our property.  Seriously I would like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but being property owners has seriously made me even more cynical.

Labor Day weekend we “gutted”.  We were smart this time and got a big dumpster.  More 4 year old carpet destroyed! Yippee, $2900.00 out the window.  We pulled out the cabinets, the 3 damaged doors, 3 sets of closet doors, and anything else left behind…

Of course we had to paint the ceilings again.  Seriously?  Is it some sort of a renters game I was never told about?  How much crap can we stick on the ceilings?  sigh.  Got that done, and got all new lighting installed.  Prepped for Dad and Besty’s arrival the week after…  They did a great job of getting the new kitchen installed in short order.

Pretty much had things wrapped up by last weekend.  So it now has new floors, new lighting, all new kitchen appliances, all new cabinets, new bathroom vanity and sink, fresh paint, 3 new interior doors, 3 sets of new closet doors, replaced all the outlets and light switches, and removed the cruddy bathroom tub door.  Not bad for shy of 3 weeks work.  Derek did a lot of it, and redid all the woodwork too.  I’m glad its done, but I don’t want to do another one!

So had it on Craigslist and the sign in the yard.  Dealt with a few crazies, but I hope we found a great new tenant who is moving in next weekend.  Maybe my stress level will drop a little now.

Well here are a few pictures.

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Anyhow, Sorry for the long gap.  We’ll try to post again soon, and hopefully we will have a camping trip in here too.

Posted in Des Moines, IA | 3 Comments

6/8/2014

Greetings from an overcast day in West Des Moines Iowa.

John is outside pressure washing the siding on the apartment building and I just got done cleaning the bathroom.  Decided to do blog posting while my head clears from all of the cleaning products.

Spent the last two weeks getting my knee back in shape to skate at the Heart of America Invitational in Kansas City.  Practiced four times last week and found the knee brace really helped.  Club practice ice is from 5pm to 6pm each evening – so I take a taxi there, then John picks me up after work.  He usually arrived a bit before 6 and waits in the parking lot for 15 minutes. The taxi drivers with Cab Trans are quite chatty and seem like they enjoy driving me to practice.  They ask me lots of ice skating and hockey questions.  Costs around $13 for 15 minute trip… so not the end of the world.

Took Friday as a vacation day from work.  Spent the morning playing Minecraft, getting rental car (white Nissan Altima) and packing for trip.  At 1:00pm meet John and one of his coworkers for lunch.  We took a short walk on the skywalk to the Big City Burgers and Greens.  Enjoyed a black and blue burger with fries drizzled with truffle oil.  Was pretty good and was nice to meet one of John’s coworkers

After lunch I hit the road for Kansas City.  Was an easy drive – just take I-35 South for 3.5 hours.  It was nice to hop in a car by myself and drive somewhere – something I don’t do much anymore.  Bad part was that I hit Kansas City right at rush hour – so had to contend with unfamiliar roads and stop and go traffic.  The last 15 minutes the GPS took me through a maze of interstate roads until I arrived at hotel in southern suburb of Shawnee, KS.  To save money went with a Motel 6.  Came to $54 a night and it was “just fine”.  It was an older hotel but my room was clean and updated in past year.

That evening was able to go to public skating session at the Kansas City Ice Center so I could practice on their ice and get a comfort level with their facility.  Found their ice to be a little faster to skate on then at the Buccaneer Arena.  Could really notice it when I did a simple two foot spin – easier to start spinning and would go faster.  Practiced for an hour and was happy with things – was able to go over routine several times without music and practice certain parts over and over.

On Saturday got up early and headed back over to the Ice Center for 8:00am practice ice.  They let you spend 15 minutes on the ice with 11 other skaters and go over your routine once to music.  Gives me a chance to get “my skating feet” back for when I do routine for judges later.  Is a bit intimidating to be out skating on the ice with 11 girls who skate and zip around the ice really fast.  Just blocked them out and did my thing.  One girl gave me the stink eye as she almost hit me trying to do some sort of jump… Oh well..

Next was waiting around until 10:00 and changing into skating clothes.  Then they let you go on the ice with 7 other girls for a quick 5 minute warm up.  Gave me another chance to “get my skating feet back” and practice some of the more difficult elements one more time.

Then we all exited the ice and I was up first.  They announce your name, you head out on the ice alone, strike a pose so they know to start the music and go through the routine.  Was not nearly as nervous as at the last competition.  Routine went as planned, the very ending where I do a simple waltz jump was a shaky but did not fall.

Then changed out of my skating clothes and waited 15 minutes for results. I won a first place gold metal.  Coach Elena said if I did not fulfill the requirements for Adult Light Entertainment, then I would have received a lesser metal – being only skater in category does not guarantee you first place. Ordered a few photos of my performance from professional photographer who was rink side – will post when I receive them.  Believe there is a video of performance taken by one of the coaches – will post if I can retrieve from them.

Prince modeling my gold medal

I then stayed at the competition for two more hours watching the other skaters in our club compete.  Most received metals for their performances.  Was nice to see the club skaters being able to compete well with the other clubs in the area.

Started for home at 1:00pm.  Trip back was easy once I got out of Kansas City.  Stopped for a quick lunch at Wendy’s then made it back to West Des Moines by 4:30pm.  Had John pick me at car rental place and was glad to be back home.  Ethan kept by my side for the next two hours meowing – like he was telling me everything I missed…  I asked John to refer to me as “Gold Medalist Derek” for the remainder of the weekend – he just groaned and muttered something about being the only one in my category…

Decided to make supper at home – we were both tired of eating out.  Made fetuchinne with red sauce, meatballs and french toast.  In the process of cooking I splashed boiling water on top of my left foot.  It really hurt.  I immediately put ice cubes in my sock and that helped me get through supper.

After enjoying supper, got the kitchen cleaned up and watched the first two episodes of the second of Orange is the New Black on Netflix.  Kept an ice pack on my foot while watching TV – see some the skin has blistered.  Is sore, but not bad enough to need medical attention.  So far I’m liking this season just as much as the first one.  Like how they go into the back stories of the other characters and let you see how they ended up in jail.  Many times I watch a series, love the first season, but hate where they have taken the story line in upcoming seasons – like with the TV show Weeds….

This morning we both slept in until after 8 and had simple breakfast at home.  Think John will be done with pressure washing soon.  He was having problem with breakers being thrown – believe water got into some of the outside plug-ins.  The siding gets dirty because grass does not grow next to the building.  The wide overhangs prevent rain from falling on it.  One of my projects for this summer is to put stone pebbles around the building along with landscaping fabric and a stone border.  Once done it should help keep the dirt from flying when it rains.

Next Thursday through Saturday I’m participating in the Des Moines Charity Hack 2014.  It’s a 48 hour event where computer programmers get paired up in teams and work on IT problems/solutions for various non-profit organizations.  It’s a marathon programming session – where you work for two days straight to do as much as possible.  Their web site explains a bit more.  Thought it sounded fun – so taking next Friday off of work and going for it.  I will probably be the old guy with a bunch of 20-something computer savants but oh well…

Not much else going on… Think we will probably go out for a mid-afternoon lunch, get grocery shopping done for the week and then head back home to finish up laundry.

 

 

Posted in Des Moines, IA | 3 Comments

5/25/14

Greetings from a nice Memorial Day Weekend in Iowa..

We spent the three day weekend cam the Meskwaki Casino RV park in Tama, IA.  The park was fine.  For $19.00 a night we got a nice paved site with 50 amp electrical service and picnic table.  No water or sewer at the site but the RV had plenty for us.  The park was only 1/5th full so was nice and peaceful – no children or barking dogs to contend with.

All Setup

For fun I went swimming at the hotel pool twice.  The second time a large family (mom/dad and grandparents) kept staring and scowling at me with their best “I’m from North West Iowa” demeanor  – was creepy after the first 15 minutes.  Thought they were about ready to form a prayer circle and exorcise my demons by the time I was done swimming.  Left after 90 minutes… Was not even wearing my favorite My Little Pony t-shirt… :)

We also took some rides around Tama, Toledo and Marshalltown. I like driving around small towns – interesting to see the old homes and figure out what the history of it was – John not so much.  Took in several antique/thrift shops and a Hardware Hank.  I purchase d two used cookbooks (Kingsford BBQ and Mr. Food’s 15 minute meals) and John purchased a fitting to fix the melted water tube that leads to the ice maker in the freezer.  The tube had melted last winter because I left the fridge on by accident.

We made it home by 1:00pm.  The apartment building was “just fine”.  Took an hour to get the RV unloaded and interior cleaned.  Was glad that the RV did not have any problems during our first trip of the year.  Was worried since it froze solid on us last November when the nasty cold front came through before we could complete our last trip of the year.

A few weeks back the 8 foot commercial picnic table was delivered by a big Holland semi truck.  The driver refused to deliver the 8 foot pallet with the various parts wrapped in plastic on it to a security location in the back yard.  He opened the back of the truck and said “Here you go” – implying it was my job to unload it.  The truck had no lift gate and he had nothing to unload it with.  He eventually helped me drop it on the curb before taking off.  So I was stuck moving the picnic table parts one at a time to the back yard – could not just leave it on the curb.  In hind site I should have refused delivery unless he put it in the back of the apartment building.

The table went together easy enough.  I got it 75% done before heading off to ice skating, then John finished up the final braces while I was away.  We now have a nice outdoor area for the tenants to use.  So far, the grill gets used much more then the table.

Outdoor area. Now just need some grass to grow... under the oak tree.. maybe..

Three weeks ago the handyman service installed a new front door.  They did a shitty job.  We are still complaining about it.  Basically the door is installed crooked, does not shut properly and does not seal unless you pull the door closed yourself.  The door closer is set to pull the door closed as hard as it can and still does not work.  They are now trying to blame the security company and their door strike.  One handyman told me I was going to need to tell my tenants to use the door handle to close the door behind them each time they enter or leave.  Asking tenants to do anything is like asking Prince to speak in French – just not going to happen.  John is going to call them again tomorrow to have them fix the door problems.  This could get nasty.

Two weeks ago the security company installed the new door access systems.  They did a shitty job with no attention to detail or workmanship.  They guy who did the installation was probably not old enough to purchase alcohol.  At least he was pretty to look at.  He took four days to do a job that should have taken a single day, damaged our new door frame when installing the new strike plate, accidentally drilled a hole in the hallway wall and did not drill pilot holes in wooden panels that cover up the large holes left by the old access system in each apartment.  The panels cracked when he drilled drywall screws into them.  We bitched up a storm and his manager came out and attempted to fix the problems.  We finally got tired of the whole shirt storm and sent him away.  Never again.

Their first attempt to cover up the gouges to the metal door frame. New door did not look new for long.

Once we get the door and security system projects resolved, I want to start installing landscaping rock around the apartment building.  The wide overhang of the roof causes grass to not grow two feet out around the building.  Each time it rains, dirt gets thrown up by the rain drops.  We stopped at Menard’s over the weekend and picked out the style of stone border we like and along with the smaller rock.  Now trying to decide if it would be better to work through a landscaping company and purchase materials in bulk, or have it delivered by someone like Mendards or Lowe’s.  This could easily be a $1500 project… sigh….

Still working on the Adult Light Entertainment ice skating routine for the Heart of America ice skating competition in Kansas City, MO in a few weeks.  The routine has a baseball theme to it using the song Right Field originally by Peter, Paul and Mary.  Skating buddy Rich was able to artistically mix the song so it fits into 1 minutes and 30 seconds dictated by the rules, and still tell a story.  This is an old Pizza Hut commercial that is somewhat the inspiration:

I need to get lots of practice in the next two weeks.  The main problem I’ve been having is that I keep throwing out my right knee.  Kept twisting it when getting out of the jeep – believe it is a recurring Meniscus tear.  Putting ice on it made it feel better.  To help it heal faster and prevent further twisting I purchased a Shock Doctor Knee Supporter.  It has really helped and have been able to continue skating while wearing it.  Will keep wearing it until I make it through the ice skating competition.  Bad news is that over the weekend I developed gout pains on my left knee – calling the doctor for medicine tomorrow.  I just can not win… John tells me that is what happens when a 45 year old tries to skate like a 13 year olds…  That really is not the case… I know my limitations but keep pushing :)

My knee all iced up...

Love this knee support - helps keep my knee stable so it can heal nice and strong.

John blames the ice skating for my knee injuries but I’ve not hurt them skating – happens when I’m off the ice.  I’m quite proficient at falling properly on the ice and tend not to hurt myself.

Not much else going on… heading off to read for a bit and fall asleep.  I’m “On Call” this week for work – so hoping I don’t get paged in the middle of the night.  At least it is a short week with having today off :)

Posted in Des Moines, IA | 1 Comment

4/27/14

Greetings from a stormy day in Iowa.

Had a nasty line of storms roll through this afternoon but ended up not being too bad.  Did not lose power or have any damage in the neighborhood.  Just lots of rain.  Ended up driving to ice skating lessons in the tail end of it.  All city roads so was no big deal.

Last weekend the weather was nicer out.  We purchased an electric pressure washer for use on the apartment building and motor home.  Went with a Greenworks 1700 PSI 1.4 GPM Electric Pressure Washer at a cost of $189.  It comes with 5 different nozzles and two tanks for soap or spray on wax.  It had enough power to get the grime off the RV but not too much that it would strip off the decals.  Only drawback is that you can only apply soap from the two dispensers while using the low pressure nozzle.  No big deal – just apply soap with low pressure, wait a minute then remove with higher pressure nozzle.  The RV really needed to be cleaned, but was surprised that it did not have too many black streaks on it.  Wonder if that is an indication of less pollution in the air, or we just got lucky?  John got up on top of the RV and washed the roof – he said it was quite cruddy. Probably the first time it has been washed since we left Portland, OR.

Pressure washer in action

 

John finally giving the roof a good scrubbing

Almost done..

We have been living without satellite TV for over a week now.  There’s things we both miss (HGTV, Bravo, USA Network to name a few) but I’ve found new shows to watch on free over the air TV, Netflix and Hulu Plus.  Last week watched the first season of The Paradise and really enjoyed it.  Is about a department store in the early 1900’s with all sorts of drama with the salespeople and management.  Is similar to the Mr. Selfridge show but set in the United States. Now hope seasons 2 and 3 comes to Netflix soon…

Yesterday had the fun of disconnecting all of the Directv’s equipment and putting it in a box they mailed to us.  Will drop it off at the post office tomorrow.  Is nice to have less equipment connected to the TV’s now.  We are still having trouble with some of the over the air TV channels getting all pixelated now and then.  Normally it is ABC, but tonight it was NBC.  Living in the city you would think we would have really good reception.  Will probably play around with moving the antenna to different locations in hopes of finding a sweep spot for reception.

Equipment all boxed up

Finally have a security company lined up to replace the door access system, right after the front door is replaced.  Have Kaufmann Handyman Service installing the door this week (I hope) and then Dakota Security should have the access system installed the following week.  So ready to have this project done and over with.  Without a working doorbell, can’t tell when delivery people are at the front door.

My ice skating adventures continues. Did not have lessons at Buccanner arena on Saturday due to scheduling conflict with a hockey game, but had lessons at Metro Ice today.  Still working on being able to do a 3 turn.  Instructor has me doing some exercises that will help – like skating on just the right foot while going in a circle that keeps getting smaller.  Three turns (right and left foot) is the last element I need before I can test out of level 4.

Also practicing for the “It’s A Small World” club skating show on May 10th.  This show is like a recital for kids to show off their new skating skills to their extended families and friends.  The adult learn to skate class is representing the country of Jamaica and skating to Bob Marly’s song One Love while wearing tie dye t-shirts and shorts.  Ever notice that ice skaters usually perform with not very warm clothes on?  I think it is some sort of cruel joke :) Been having practice sessions Wednesdays at 5:00pm to get the routine down. “Let’s get together and feel all right”.  Been taking a taxi there and then John picks me up on the way home.  Works out OK…

Also preparing for another ice skating competition – this time in Kansas City on the weekend of June 7th for the Heart of America Invitational 2014.  The ice skating club wants lots of its members to attend so off I go..  Believe they get points that helps their standing, or just bragging rights?  This time I’m being judged on a “Light Entertainment – Adult” category.  You are judged more on the entertainment value of the routine then specific skating elements.  Here’s two examples of Light Entertainment I found on YouTube:

Not telling what I’m doing – is going to be a surprise.  It’s not anything like the two videos above.  Have several coaches help put something together that has been stretching my skating ability and may include a little jump or two… Had learn to skate friend, Rich, help me by mixing some music for it.  He was able to take a 3 minute song and reduce it down to 1 minute and 39 seconds – even added some additional sound effects.  Thank you, Rich!!

That’s about it…  Did have a good giggle when I read about how a stash of E.T video game cartridges for the old Atari 2600 video game system was actually found in the New Mexico dessert.  Was an urban legend about how Atari’s ET game was so bad they ended up burying millions of them.  They confirmed there was some truth to the legend:  E.T Found in the New Mexico Landfill

E.T. phone home..

I remember playing the game back in the day.  Think we borrowed it from someone and did not actually own it.  Remember playing it on and off but not really getting too far with it. I was more into Frogger and Pitfall…

 

Posted in Des Moines, IA | 2 Comments

4/13/14

Greetings from a stormy day in Iowa.

Was in the middle 70’s yesterday with sunny skies, and today it is rainy with temps falling back down to the 30’s.  The wind is really blowing outside as I type..

Made it through the ice skating competition today.  The spinning team took 4th place and my solo took first place because I was the only adult who did a beginning level 3 routine to music.  Here is link to video of performance John took with his iPhone:

From John and Derek’s Blog Photos 2014

 

Routine went OK.  I had a misstep going backwards to forwards at the beginning.  The remainder of the routine went as planned.  Seeing the video shows how slow I skate – it feels like I’m moving faster when I’m going through the motions – guess that is what beginners do :)

 

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Team Trophy for Spins

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Result sheet showing I was skater #1 out of 1

I posted on Facebook about how I was the only person using the men’s locker room.  Was kinda lonely, but was kinda neat to relax and watch TV a bit.  Was amazed at how nice and clean the locker room was.  Now I’m spoiled for any possible future competitions :) John was a little miffed with me when I told him about the locker room because he was stuck watching little girls ice skate in the cold seats around the ice arena.  Just not his thing at all.

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My stuff in the locker room. All alone..

Big thanks to my skating coach, Kimberly and the Central Iowa Figure Skating Club.  Without her experience, patience and help I would have been a completely lost cause today.  She makes skating and practicing the same thing over and over fun. Now on to more ice skating fun and working to advance to higher levels.

So backtracking a few days now… Friday after getting done with programming for the bank, I went outside and started to install the new park style charcoal grill.  Started by digging a hole for the support pole and then mixed up a bag of Quikrete cement to go around it.  Managed to get it completed in about 90 minutes – including trip to Ace for the cement and the help of John and Saul.  Saul rents from us and wanted to help out :)

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The pole in cemented in place and leveled

 

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Grill all ready to go. Still nice and clean.

On Saturday morning I finished up the grill by bolting the top part on, then adding the grilling surface.  Was easy enough…  Saul then said they would cook some burgers for us that evening.  So we had a mini-cookout in the back yard.  John drug some lawn chairs out and I setup a card table for food.  Saul did the grilling while I whipped up some baked beans with bacon in it.  Everything turned out “Just Fine”.  Was nice to just hang out a relax for a bit. Even enjoyed a margarita on the rocks, or two.  I did have to cut the evening a little short because I had a final practice skating session at 6:30pm.

After I was all done skating at the competition, we headed home.  Had enough time on the way back to stop at Burger King for a quick lunch.  I then headed to Metro Ice for my Sunday afternoon lessons.  John’s getting was miffed with me over the amount of ice skating that I’m doing, but oh well…  Now need to get ready for the Spring Show the ice skating club is putting on next month. :)

Now at 9:00pm, my legs are sore and my eyes are tired.  Time to get away from the computer and get set for the upcoming work week.

 

Posted in Des Moines, IA | 3 Comments

4/10/14

Greetings from a beautiful Spring day in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Temps got into the upper 60’s today with lots of sunshine.  The lawn is starting to turn green – much nicer to look at then the matted down brown stuff.  Went on my first bike ride of the year.  Went around Raccoon Lake twice – was good to see my bike is in decent shape – only needed to pump up the tires and oil the chain a bit.  While at the park was able to see the new archery range they built – guess it is for little girls who watched The Hunger Games movies one too many times.  Actually, John has a compound bow – he should check it sometime.  I remember doing archery in High School – mainly remember pulling the sharp quils out of the side of my hand because I had the arrow oriented wrong on the string..

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Bike trail around Raccoon Lake - no leaves yet.

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New Archery Range

We have decided to stop paying for satellite TV.  John decided the bill was too high once our “special promotion” period was done and they were unwilling to make us any deals.  Our last day with satellite TV will be April 19th – the end of our billing cycle.  I purchased a Winegard FlatWave Amplified Razor thin HGTV Indoor Antenna and with it we get 18 local channels.  We will supplement this with Netflix, Hulu-Plus and Apple TV via the internet.

We both liked having a DVR with the satellite service because we rarely watch live TV anymore.  Just set up season pass once and it remembers to record our shows each week.  It was really nice being able to fast forward through the commercials – especially while watching American Idol.

We decided to purchase a Tivo Roamio DVR that will enable us to record over the air programming.  Went through and have our favorite shows all set to record on the Tivo – at least the ones we can get over the air.  The Tivo’s guide is integrated with Netflix and Hulu Plus.  So if I search for a TV show, “Bones” for example, it will show me when it is available over the air, plus if it is on Hulu-Plus or Netflix.  It is nice to be able to switch between live programming, Netflix and Hulu-Plus with a single remote.  Will be interesting to see how well we adapt to not having satellite TV.  I’m going to miss HGTV, Bravo and Lifetime the most… oh well.. I can now watch lots of public TV.

Purchased a park style grill to setup in the back yard for us and the tenants to use.  This weekend I need to get the base installed by digging hole and putting concrete around the main post.  Would like to get this done before the spring rainy season starts in.  Will also purchase a nice 8 foot picnic table so we have some usable outdoor space. Want a place I sit outside with computer or book now and then.

The Skate Des Moines Spring Classic competition is this Sunday.  I’m part of an adult “Spinning Team” and also doing a solo Adult 3 routine.  The spinning team has each team member demonstrating a different type of spin on the ice.  I’m doing the easiest one – a two foot spin.  I can do them pretty well, but now and then I go out of balance.  Spinning quickly in a circle really bothered me when I was first learning – would get really dizzy.  Not so much now…

Did a final “dress rehearsal” for my solo routine on Tuesday night.  Wanted to make sure I could skate in my dress slacks since I normally have jeans on when skating.  Went through routine several times and changed the ending up a bit so I can spend more time on my final spin and finish with some exotic hand movements ;) Will have the routine recorded and post it to blog…  Should be a fun day – plan to hang out with my skating buddies and go out drinking after it is all done :)

Not much else going on…  Here’s Prince trying to look out window when Ethan is sleeping on his perch:

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3/18/14

Greetings from a warm evening in West Des Moines, Iowa

At 7:00pm it is still 50 outside – feels warm compared to the weather the past few weeks.  Are are on the “weather roll coaster” for the next few months here – will have a few nice days mixed in with the normal cool, wet and windy ones.

Have not been on a bike ride yet this year.  Need to spend some time cleaning my bike, making sure the tires are properly inflated and the break pads are in good order.  Hope to get to it this coming weekend.

Outside ice skating is done for the year at Brenton Plaza downtown.  They were able to stay operational for a week longer then last year.  Attended their end of season party.  Had fun doing silly dances on ice skates like the Hokey Pokey and the Chicken Dance.  Will not see Coach Jenny until I sign up for lessons downtown next winter.

Skating lessons continue at Bucanner Arena on Saturday’s and at Metro Ice on Sundays.  I’m still working on learning more elements in “Adult 4″.  Right now doing backwards one-foot outside edges on a circle are not coming very easily.  Having a hard time getting my skates to stay on the edge, but will get it down eventually.

Getting ready to participate in my first ice skating competition.  My skating coaches thought it would be good for me to try competing.  Signed up to do Adult 3 elements at the Skate Des Moines Spring Classic on April 13th downtown at the Wells Fargo Arena.  Will skate to music for one minute and thirty seconds, demonstrating 5 different skating moves they list:

  • Forward outside and inside edges on a circle (clockwise and counterclockwise)
  • Forward crossovers (clockwise and counterclockwise)
  • Backward 1/2 swizzle pumps on a circle (clockwise and counterclockwise)
  • Moving forward to backward and backward to forward two foot turn
  • Beginning 2-foot spin.

I can do the items listed in some capacity – so should be fun to do. Plus get to hang out with my skating buddies while watching the other skaters do their thing. Going to skate to a shortened version of “When Will I Be Loved” by Linda Ronstadt.  Song is short to begin and has a simple enough melody to skate to.  Did not want to pick music that is bigger then my meager abilities.  

Had my paint by number painting framed at Michael’s.  Went with an off the shelf frame, but had them cut a mat for it and put it all together.  Went with a black mat and I think it looks “just fine”:

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 John has been busy setting up a new server using a new Mac Mini Server and four external hard drives.  This replaces the older Mac server that was no longer able to be upgraded to a supported version of the OS X operating system.  Apple was no longer updating the older version of OS X – so we were vulnerable to viruses and other cyber attacks.

The main purpose of the server is to host our own email server and provide document management for our apartment business.  We purchased a Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner and DevonThink document management software.  He spent a weekend getting it all installed and configured.  We are now able to scan in receipts, bank statements, rental documents and all sorts of paper documents we have squirreled away.  Once scanned in we add tags to the electronic documents and move them into folders.  It’s really slick how it works and will make tax time easy next year.  Will be able to supply our tax preparer with a thumb drive that contains images of all our receipts.  It’s nice to be able to shred and throw away all the old paperwork we were holding onto.

I’ve been taking some online IT training through the Team Tree House website.  You follow along with online videos, take quizzes and complete code challenges.  You earn points and badges as you progress.  They also have a quirky movie that is revealed to you one segment at a time as you reach different training milestones.  It’s neat how they have everything organized – it makes the training fun.  Right now I’m going through the Web Design track, but will eventually go through PHP, WordPress, iOS and Ruby tracks.  I spend an hour to 90 minutes each evening with it.  It’s cutting into the time I was spending on Minecraft.  Doing the training to update my skills, incorporate it into my annual goals at work that is part of my annual review and a nice resume booster.  Being employed in the IT industry means you need to keep learning “the new stuff”…

Not much else going on… heading off to do some more Treehouse training before watching some TV..

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2/27/14

Greetings from a cold West Des Moines, Iowa..

Don’t believe it has been above freezing outside since we have returned from our vacation last weekend.  It is currently 7 outside and we are expecting more snow tomorrow (Friday) and maybe on Saturday.  On Tuesday night the garbage totes were frozen to the ground and the shed – had to kick them to get them to move.  This winter weather is getting old again – I miss the warm weather we had on vacation.

Last Sunday had an afternoon skating lesson at Metro Ice.  The instructor said that she has not seen me so energetic and confident with my skating before.  Was doing some backwards crossovers and three point turns better then ever before.  Guess 10 days in the warm sun made me a better ice skater :)

Little story from the cruise.  One of the performers was Pandora Box from RuPaul’s Drag Race.  During her first show she explained that she forgot to bring her props along – so she had to make a little story book from a pamphlet in her room and did without the big glasses she uses for her Carol Channing impersonation.  You can’t do Carol Channing without the glasses – just is not the same.  So after her performance she hung around and chatted with people. I asked if she would like to borrow a pair of big glasses I brought for the paparazzi dance.  Long story short, she thanked me and used my glasses for her next performances.  Her Carol Channing impersonation was so much better with them on.  Will remember this each time I see her on Logo.

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Glasses I packed in lower left hand of suitcase

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Bad photo of Pandora wearing them.

 Finally got around to putting together slideshow that shows the progress of the paint by number painting I finished earlier this month.  Took a photo of the painting after each session.  Here it is:

Derek's Paint by Number 2-SD (480p).m4v

 Created it using iPhoto then exporting it to a .m4v video.  Clicking on it should open it up in the Picasa web album. Hope you can play it on your computer.

Yesterday John came home from work and noticed that someone had ran into the side of the motor home.  Could still see tread marks in the snow going up to it  Was not major damage, but did leave dents in the bottom bay doors on the driver side.  We called the police department and had them file a report for the insurance company.  No one has confessed to hitting it and doubt the police department will find anything.  We would like to have it repainted this coming year, but will see if we can budget for it.  Seems like it is always something.

Not much else going on – heading off to watch American Idol and play MineCraft for a bit.

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