Tag Archives: Amazon

So, we built a swing set…


It was a fun family project.  We told the kids that birthdays & Easter would be light as we were putting a lot into the swingset.  I’m not sure they understood or cared.  Our moms helped with the purchase, too.  Bethany & I looked online at 6,487,932 swing sets, and narrowed it down to 15 or so in our price range.  I made a spreadsheet to compare them, because OCD or something.  Looking at the roadside swing sets at those places that also sell sheds and rocking chairs, we got a similar product for about ⅓ or ¼ of the price, albeit with no installation.

Installation is expensive, and now we know why.  Ha ha.  Everyone who knew we were getting one gave warning, so we weren’t surprised, but it was an interesting task.

It came in 3 boxes from Walmart.com, and we did in-store pickup because I measured & it all fit nicely in the family vehicle.

Yay, #swingset!

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It took two weekend days with one week night in between to get it done, but the first weekend day was slowed by the kids “helping,” a move-the-tools-in-because-it-looks-like-rain delay, and maybe even a “let’s undo that part because I put it on backwards” moment.  The week night was hindered by the fact that as soon as I attached the ladder & sliding board, the kids needed to test it out.

Bethany & I enjoyed the kids helping.  We do the Home Depot Kids Workshops so both kids are comfortable with a hammer & a screwdriver, and we have done some other stuff at home like carpet removal and hanging curtain rods where they have actually helped.

Hard at work!

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Had some "helpers" today, ha ha.

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My mom even got video of the little man showing off his ratchet skills;

We have been at the house for a few years now, but the project this year is another step to getting the back yard to where we want it, and next year we’ll work on the front.  Having some trees removed recently & moving our garden really opened up some space in the back yard.  I’d like to put in a fire ring, and a toy car race-track play area.  I actually proposed removing the Bean House to make room for the latter, but I was vetoed by a 2yo boy saying “Unh-uh, Daddy.  Hoooome.  Hooome.  Daddy, unh-uh.”  I really hope the beans take off this year.  I have some sprouts popping up already.  I have some squash around it too. I don’t think the soil is all that great there though.

I even recently built this Pinterest inspired potting bench…

Back to the swing set, we even got a few extra add-ons from Amazon, like the steering wheel, telescope, telephone, and some handles.  I think I want to replace the kitchen area tarp walls with some chalkboard-painted wood… and eventually when the canopy fades or dry-rots, I’d like to replace it with some type of solid roof.

"There's so much room for activities!" @CedarSummitPlay #Laurentian #PlaySet #Swingset

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At any rate, I encourage you to tackle a project as a family.  I encourage you to get kids outdoors.  I encourage you to not be afraid to give young kids some tools with a bit of guidance and a lot of supervision.  I encourage you to get them into building, gardening, cooking, and the business of imagination.  I encourage you to try projects yourself, and don’t be afraid to involve the whole family.  It’s amazing how much you can learn through Google, YouTube, and a maybe a few tries.

I think the kids like it…

At my signal, unleash a $3 VHS cassette.


So, browsing one of the local flea-market/yard-sale type groups on Facebook, I discovered this post…

Gladiator on VHS for sale. Only $3.00 American!

Gladiator on VHS for sale. Only $3.00 American!

As you can imagine because I’m blogging about it, many questions came to mind.  It’s hard to even know where to begin.

We’ll start with the obvious.  Who would pay $3 for a VHS cassette of any movie, let alone this movie?  I mean Gladiator was a good film… but here is a shortlist of better values available online…

This is just for physical media.  I didn’t even look into streaming.  I get that not everyone is set up to stream and that some people (myself included) like to put their hands on physical tangible media.

Who has a working VCR?  OK.  I do, but I’m odd.  It’s a VCR/DVD-recorder, and someday I will transfer all of my VHS tapes to DVD (which is already a dead format).  Who is still watching video tapes?  I mean, watching the old 4:3 aspect ratio drives me nuts these days.

The other side of this… who goes through their stuff, decides they can part with this, and assigns a $3 value to it?  I mean, I could see if this was a collector’s item.  I have Star Wars on VHS and I’ll probably have it forever, but The Gladiator?   Sure, it was a good movie… but not that good. Why were they even still making video tapes in the year 2000?

What do you need that badly that costs $3?  This wouldn’t be worth the gas money or the bus fair to meet someone to make the sale.

I have been strapped for cash, but never would think to list what essentially amounts to garbage for a negligible value on a Facebook flea market group.  If this sells, I really have a lot of stuff that I need to be listing for under $5 amounts.

Kyle Dine and Friends | DVD Review


I posted a review of Kyle Dine’s DVD on Amazon, and wanted to share it here…

Kyle Dine is an incredibly talented and extremely creative children’s entertainer.  He also wields the utmost authority on living life while coping with food allergies as he has multiple food allergies himself and is a successful world-travelled musical educator.

These expertly crafted videos are full of incredibly fun and catchy age-appropriate songs and lessons about having food allergies.  How to avoid your trigger foods, hand washing, always carrying your auto-injector, and how to quickly reach out for help if necessary are just some of the topics not only touched upon but driven home by Kyle and his puppet friends.  

As an adult with a severe food allergy I am so glad that this type of resource is available for the ever-growing “club” of the food allergic.  As a parent of a child with food allergies, this is an invaluable tool to help teach a toddler turning into a pre-schooler about the importance of not eating food unless it’s OK’d by mommy or daddy, and for her to let us know immediately if she is having a reaction.  Luckily she loves to wash her hands, so we’ve got that covered.  These lessons are delivered in the fine tradition of children’s programming like Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers, and they work.  Both of my kids were moving to the music upon our first viewing!

I not only recommend this for food allergy families, but I would say that extended family who may not understand food allergies, your child’s friends and their parents, and organizations like schools, churches, camps, & clubs could all benefit from the knowledge and entertainment provided by this set of DVD’s.  This programming ought to play on constant rotation in your family’s pediatric allergist’s office waiting room.

This can and will serve as an incredibly fun way to open the door to creating a fun, safe, and confident approach to living with food allergies.

Kyle Dine & Friends: Allergy Awareness with Songs, Puppets, and Games

Kyle Dine & Friends

 

Digital Media vs.Physical Media.


The other day I posted a Facebook status, and wanted to expand upon it here.  This is what I said:

I get that digital & cloud media are the next step. I get that ALMOST everything is available for streaming as part of a service. Anyone else weirded out by it? Some stuff… obscure or whatever just isn’t available for streaming. What happens when the companies close or the cloud’s redundant services fail? What happens if someone buys the rights to streaming movies, just to keep them from the public? What if censorship goes out of control and some committee decided certain movies are no longer available? Will they all be lost forever because no one will have physical copies? Don’t say it can’t happen… it has in the past with books.

It sparked a discussion.  Not too long after I posted that, Amazon posted this:

Announcing AutoRip from Amazon MP3: Buy an AutoRip CD and instantly get the MP3 version for FREE. Learn more: http://amzn.to/VMhFaJ

I of course shared it, and it sparked a tiny bit more discussion.

English: Photograph of Roku XDS player with re...

Photograph of Roku XDS player with remote. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like the idea of digital music & cloud storage.  I just purchased a 3TB drive, and in addition to other uses, hope to eventually rip all of my CD’s & put them on there so I can set it up to listen to all of my stuff from any browser anywhere.  Well, after I make a few decisions.

I like the idea of Digital movies & TV shows…  I love having Netflix‘s library available in an instant.  I love being able to watch a movie from Netflix or rent a digital movie from Amazon through the Blu-ray player.

I like the idea of Pandora or Google Play where there’s streaming music there in an instant.  Pandora just disappoints because of the variety of music I listen to… a lot of smaller bands that I really dig just have a minimal or even no presence there.  Google Play at least lets you upload your own mp3’s in addition to purchasing new ones.  Amazon holds your stuff in the cloud too.  I just wish all the music that I wanted was all in one place.

I have had an older external hard drive crash.  It’s not good.  I still need to get it fixed without breaking the bank.  Anything physical can be destroyed…  CD’s & Records can melt or scratch, and not too many people have 8-Trak or even cassette players any more.

My original question is as much about content control & ownership as much as anything else.  Say you purchase a ton of music that’s in the cloud… and that company shuts down.  How do you hold on to that music?  Were you just renting it?  What happens if the parent company gets into a disagreement with the management of your favorite band and their catalog is removed from your clous storage?

Cover of "Idiocracy"

“…a time when people cared about who’s ass it was, and why it was farting!”

What if you bought the movie Idiocracy and it becomes so true to life that it’s banned?  Don’t sit back comfortably and think it can’t happen.  Books are banned all the time by different groups.  No one comes & takes all of your books… yet.  What if the banned book could be deleted from your Kindle or Nook?  All In The Family would never fly on TV now, but what if it was no longer available because of its abrasive humor?

I just feel uneasy about it.

That being said, I absolutely hate cash money.  I hardly ever have it on me.  I like swiping my card for everything.  If I could use it in parking meters and pop machines, I would.  There’s a swing back towards cash though, as credit card company fees are crushing small businesses, especially if you’re making a purchase with a low dollar amount.  Is it odd that I have no problem with my money being intangible,  but when I use to to purchase an album or a movie… I need that to be tangible?

I’d like to get a good discussion going in the comments.

If I owned a department store chain…


Every time I go to a Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc. I’m driven slightly mad. Sure, part of it is because of the stores themselves or the employees who seem to be rather uninterested in working… But most of the problem is the other shoppers. I was going to put a percentage on it, but I’m not sure I can. I think is a small percentage of idiots with a largely negative impact. Well, idiot just implies that they’re stupid. I think it’s more inconsiderate than stupid. I’m talking about people who are generally unaware of the needs, thoughts, and feelings of everyone around them. The best word that I can think of (even though I generally try to avoid being vulgar in print) is asshole. We all know what kind of person that describes. If I owned/ran a department store, I would try to prevent the behavior that goes with this type of personality.

Parking Lot

Parking Lot

Curbing unacceptable behavior would start in the parking lot (pun intended). One of my favorite blogs calls these people “Peter Parkers.”  They’re where the problem begins.  If your jackass behavior can’t make it through the parking lot, we’ll hope you don’t even bother to come in to the store.  Whether we’re talking about people driving & parking the wrong way in one way lanes, people who park over the lines, people who don’t slow down/stop at cross-walks, or people who park in handicapped spaces or on the line-covered spaces near the handicapped spaces.  That’s just the drivers…  Don’t forget that people need to learn how to walk to their car in a parking lot too.

Crossing Guard

Crossing Guard

To curtail all of this inconsiderate conduct we’d have meter maids, crossing guards, and cameras.  I guess the meter maids wouldn’t have meters to read, they’d just be parking enforcers.  Cars parked over painted lines, at curbs, or in handicapped spaces without proper tags will be towed.  Immediately.  I’m saying we’d go after them mere seconds after it happens, perhaps as their door is being shut.  The parking enforcers wouldn’t be like the people on that TV show where they argue.  They’d just do their job.  I’d have a tow truck or two on site at all times.  I have no tolerance for people who think that rules somehow don’t apply to themselves.  (I’m talking about inconsequential rules here like how to conduct yourself in society.  I think it’s always good to question authority & what not… but that doesn’t apply here where you’re just being a self-indulgent dolt.) 

People entering & exiting the store wouldn’t have the free reign to walk out into oncoming traffic.  Somehow (here in PA at least) people have taken “pedestrians have the right of way” to the extreme, where the actual law is that they have the right of way in crosswalks.  Everywhere else, you’re fair game.  A crossing-guard would facilitate safe passage and at the same prevent a traffic jam like you get in the front of every Walmart or Giant Eagle when an endless stream of lackadaisical shoppers lumber slowly in front of you without glancing in your direction as you sit in your auto waiting for a break in the action.  If the people who like to park wherever they please or run into oncoming traffic with faith in an imaginary no-fault law somehow don’t feel welcome in my department store, then good.  We’ve successfully weeded out the first wave of assholes.  If they have learned to conduct themselves in a respectful manner while spending time in my controlled outdoor environment, then let ’em in!

Amish parking, Cashton, 29 June 2012

Amish parking

(Oh yeah, bicycles would have their own parking lot… they’d share it with buggies & horses in Amish country, and buses would roll to the edge of the parking lot, not right to the front door causing endless amounts of chaos.)

Inside the store, we’d have checkout lines like the bank, Wendy’s, or Best Buy.  People can be incredibly ignorant when it comes to getting in line.  It’s certainly not everyone, but there are a select few who ruin it for everyone else.  See any McDonalds or Sheetz without the rope at lunch time.  It’s absolute chaos.

Queue Area

Queue Area

I know they’re not department stores… but it’s easier to see the same behavior there as it’s more concentrated.  It would eliminate getting into line behind the people who want to put things back, use expired coupons, write checks, talk on their phones, shop for everything in the impulse-buy section, or search for their method of payment long after everything is rung up.

In fact, no checks.  All it does is slow things down.  It’s 2012.  It’s almost 2013.  If you have a bank account, you have a debt card or credit card, some of them are even called check cards now.  Use it.  Don’t use that antiquated paper log-book that does nothing but slow things down for everyone.

No Checks Accepted

In my store, there would be no greeter that avoids eye contact completely or looks at you like you’re the grim reaper come to take them to hell.  Maybe there would be a robot there to say hello.  At least a robot could fake sincerity more efficiently.

Even though it doesn’t have to do with behavior exactly, the restrooms would have faucets in the sinks (with hot water) that you can fit your hands under, paper towels that are actually stocked regularly, hand dryers that actually dry your hands, and soap.  No foam soap, no hand sanitizer, no bathroom attendants to do it for you.  It might put people in a better mood if they can be comfortable.

I’m sure there are many other things I’d have to put in place, and many other bad customer behavior… but these are the ones I can think of now.

What would you do to make a trip to a department store more tolerable?  Would you enjoy it if stores weeded out the a-holes?  Are you one of the people who behaves like an a-hole by parking in the wrong spots, jumping to lines in front of people, and walking like an idiot in the parking lot?  Please, share your thoughts in the comments section below!

last minute shoppers.

last minute shoppers. (Photo credit: the idealist)

Pizza Hut actually █████████ to a █████ but then ███████ it.


I tweeted this…

They tweeted this…

https://twitter.com/#!/pizzahut/status/195944183775756289

(They have since deleted it.)

I tweeted this…

Of course, this was all in reference to my apparently infamous maze.  We’ll see if we get a reply.  I’m guessing not, since they deleted their tweet.

Wow.  Do they have an internal policy regarding not answering me?  Holy cow, that is so funny.  Luckily I have a screenshot show that the tweet did indeed exist.

@PizzaHut | @AiXeLsyD13 how humorously cool! We’ll relay this information to our internal team.

Fantastic.

I caught your tweet, Pizza Hut!  Ha ha.  You responded to me.  I win.

I almost forgot, they never responded to this either:

Hey Pizza Hut, my guts are not a water park!

Do you think they "get" that it makes me poop?

Should I make a maze book?


If I published a book of my mazes, would you buy it?  Know anyone who would?  Think there’s a market for it?  I’ve recently been talking to another dude online that drew mazes in the past that are mazes similar to mine (in addition to some other very cool stuff), and who’s going for it through Amazon.  The rationale is even if he only sells one or two a month, it’s still income he didn’t have.  There’s always Kickstarter or Lulu, too.

I know there are some other maze creators out there… and there are maze books.  Is it a big genre?  Are people willing to pay for that kind of stuff any more?

I’d love it if someone could make an app where you can complete one of my mazes with your finger or a stylus on an Android, iPhone, tablet PC, or E-reader.  I don’t know to what end… but it would be fun.  Any interested developers out there?

I’d have to scan, sort, arrange, and of course draw some more… maybe even figure out the solutions… but I think I could get it all put together.

What do you think?

Peculiarly Perplexing Path [Maze]

Peculiarly Perplexing Path

☠ Good Halloween Movies?


The Monster Squad

Monster Squad

I have a bunch of stuff I wanna blog about, but I need the time to sit down & do it.  [I have some goofy World (and Lunar) Domination ones coming up, some half started… that seems to be what grabs more readers/comments.]

You’ll help write this blog post for me.  If you’re seeing the link on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ … please reply in the comments section here at the blog, not in the comments stream at Facebook or Google+, & not an @ through Twitter.  If you’re logged in on Facebook or Twitter you can comment down below using either account!

This one is relevant & easy to knock out because of the time of year.  I was trolling through Netflix on the Wii the other night, trying to find a good Halloween-ish movie to watch.

Cover of "Shaun of the Dead"

Shaun of the Dead

My wife is scared easily, and wasn’t in the mood for House of 1000 Corpses-like gore or Alienlike “Ah!” jumps.  (I still can’t get her to watch Silence of the Lambs.)  I was thinking The Crow, maybe Monster Squad or Shaun of the Dead.

I thought of a bunch that weren’t available for streaming, like Wolf and Teen Wolf or even Beetlejuice.  I found myself unable to think of campy other spooky fun.

Help me build a go-to list of all of us who are too old to remember good scary/funny/creepy movies like Ghostbusters, Batman, Zombieland, Fido, Edward Scissorhands, etc.

Roku XDS

Roku

While we’re on it, does a streaming service other than Netflix offer these movies, or am I going to have to start trolling the cheap DVD/Bluray bin at Walmart?  Maybe I just need to get a device like Roku that streams Amazon movies.

What movies make you want to mentally escape in front of the blue glow of your TV under a warm blanket on a cool October day?

Little Billy’s Letters


Recently I found myself at Borders, planning to purchase another one of Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers, but I already have all the ones that they had there on the shelf (except for Wise Up, but I don’t know if I like the format of that one), and I’m impatient, so I decided to look around for another book in the humor section.

I found myself drawn to Little Billy’s Letters.  Bill Geerhart is like me.  He likes to annoy others with goofy letters.  His angle is that he’s writing these letters from Billy, his inner child.  I’m only about a quarter of the way through the book, and it is ridiculously entertaining.

From Amazon.com:

What do , Don’t Even Reply, the Church of Scientology, and Donald Rumsfeld all have in common?: They — and many others — have answered letters from “Little Billy”, a grown man with a cache of stamps and far too much time on his hands. Funny, touching, and delightfully quirky, Billy’s letters cover a broad range of subject matter:

  • Operation Drop-Out: Considering dropping out of elementary school, Billy writes to serial killers and celebrities seeking their wise counsel.
  • Billy’s Law: Which Supreme Court Justice prefers the Big Mac to the Whopper? Who is Janet Reno’s favorite crime fighter? What does Robert Shapiro say is the best defense for being framed for murder? Billy finds out.
  • The Making of the Class President: Billy runs for class president and collects “endorsements” from Nancy Reagan, Dick Cheney, George HW Bush, Gerald Ford, Bob Dole, Ken Starr, and Colin Powell.
  • Choosing My Religion: Billy asks representatives from the Catholic, Presbyterian, Mormon, Raelian, Satanic, Scientologist, Hare Krishna and Unification Church (Moonies) what is “cool” or “easy” about their religion.

Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, Celebrities, Heads of Corporations, Serial Killers, Robot Makers, and the NesQuick Bunny have all replied to “Little Billy’s” scrawled questions.

From Facebook:

In the ’90s and 00’s a grown man–in the guise of a child–wrote prank letters to politicians, CEOs, serial killers and others. “Little Billy’s Letters,” available March 9th from HarperCollins, is a collection of this insane correspondence.

Heh.  Right up my alley, right?

The replies from Charles Manson (& some Manson Family members) had me cracking up… making it even more funny is the fact that I probably shouldn’t be laughing at anything involving serial killers.

Advice from Bob Dole or Dan Quayle on anything is probably always hilarious.

Check out some awesome re-printed samples thanks to Boingboing:  Little Billy’s Letters to famous and infamous people

boingboing | Little Billy's Letters to famous and infamous people

It reminds me of some of my other absolute favorite books.  Idiot Letters by Paul Rosa is the first one of this kind that I picked up, and I think my favorite by default.  Then there was The Complete Idiot Letters (also by Rosa).  I think I also have Letters From a Nut, More Letters From a Nut, & Extra Nutty! Even More Letters From a Nut! by Ted L. Nancy.  If they’re not at my house, I’m sure they’re at my mom’s in my old room.  It seems to almost be an emerging genre…  There are a lot of similar books and even websites out there.

Maybe I need to get back to writing some more goofy letters & emails.

At any rate, I suggest picking up this book, or getting it at the library or in your Kindle or iPad or whatever you crazy kids do to read these days.  It’s absolutely hilarious.

Mustafi

Global Thermonuclear War


Those are still scary words.  Ha ha ha. 

Today, I was made aware (via ThinkGeek on Twitter) that this was the day in 1983 that the movie WarGames was released.  This is one that’s at the top of my “favorite movies from my childhood” list.

Another Twitter post (from TB5918) linked to some cool WarGames sounds at Movie Sounds Central.

When I was younger, the USSR was still around and there was this really weird thin Cold War line between them being the enemy or a friend.  It was clear that our respective governments were unsure of the other, but the people in each place were just curious about each other.  They were a great movie bad guy.  Every stock film bad guy was a Communist from the USSR because they were so easy to identify and to fear.

WarGames not only appealed to the budding computer geek in me, but it really pointed out to me that maybe the Soviets weren’t the bad guy.  Maybe we were.  Maybe no one was.  Plus, the whole machines taking over thing kind’ve messed with my little mind.

I was also fascinated with how he hacked a payphone.  I never did get to try that out(For the kids, this is a payphone.)

I know my parents had to spend mad cash on renting this VHS (and possibly Betamax, we had one of those first…) for me multiple times.  I have it on DVD at home somewhere now.  I rescued it from the Walmart $5 DVD mid-aisle bin.

I really recommend checking this out if you’ve never seen it or if you have no idea what I’m talking about.  If you have seen it, go watch it again!  (Hey – even Rotten Tomatoes likes it.)

I’m gonna have to make a “Favorite movies from my childhood” list.

Maybe I can convince the wife that we need to watch this tonight, to mark the occasion…

WarGames | JOSHUA

Joshua