Product Spotlight: July 2017

It's July... Summer's in full swing, and most likely you're enjoying some fun filled days outside under the sun. Don't forget your sunscreen, of course. Gotta protect that skin. 

But we're not here to talk about sunscreen... I wanted to talk about something you can play with and have fun with while out in the sun with your family and friends... a drone!

This isn't just any drone, but the DJI Mavic Pro. It's extremely easy to fly (if I can do it, you can too!), and takes incredible video and still images.

I realize this is not an inexpensive toy;  but it can either be an investment in a new hobby, or a stepping stone into an eventual career path. There are a lot of options for an experienced drone pilot in the realm of real estate photography, event photography, or even filmmaking. There are a lot of drones on the market that are definitely cheaper; they feel and perform as such. This is not a toy, and you'll come to that realization once you get your hands on one and fly it for yourself. 

 



Visit My Youtube Channel Here

Get blog updates via e-mail




Product Spotlight: June 2017

It's June: The weather's getting hotter, and we're spending more time outside. Staying hydrated is very important. However, it's annoying when our beverages get warm fairly quickly, and who wants to drink a nice glass of warm water to keep cool? That just doesn't make sense. 

Someone showed me a line of cups that are double-walled, that keep cool drinks cool and warm drinks warm for far longer than a regular cup or plastic bottle. I encountered one for myself on such a warm day, while over at a friend's place working on my Jeep. 

She grabbed one such cup, filled it with ice, and poured in some room temperature bottled water. We took the stuff outside, and continued working. For over an hour, the ice was still 100% intact, and my drink remained ICE COLD! I couldn't believe it. 

I bought a few of these both for home and for work, and I've had a number of days where I'd gone home and come back in the next day to find ice still remaining within my cup at work. These things are great, especially since I like drinking my water like it had just rolled off the side of a glacier. 

Where can you find such things? Well, I'm glad you asked. Click below! 




Visit My Youtube Channel Here

Get blog updates via e-mail




A Lot Can Happen In 3 Years

This morning, Facebook prompted me to share the picture on the left, but I couldn't do that without reflecting on what's happened, and just how much life can change in 3 years.

On the left was from May of 2014, the right was from February 2017.  

In May of 2014,  I was wearing jeans with a waist size of 52, and weighing somewhere around 350 lbs. I could only shop at a Big & Tall store. there were days I was depressed about it, and some days I didn't even think about it. "It was what it was."  

As I'm writing this, I fit into jeans with a waist size between 38 and 40 (depending on where it comes from). I fit comfortably into a 2X shirt, and haven't shopped at a big & tall shop in months.  

I'm amazed at the progress I've made, and grateful for all the support I'd had. I'm having one of those "surreal"  moments sitting here just realizing how far I've come.

I've felt myself get more confident in life, and have had more energy than I've ever had before. I know I'm heading in a good direction.   

IMG_1315.JPG


Visit My Youtube Channel Here

Get blog updates via e-mail




A Handy Way to Rack Up United Miles

Despite United having not had some great press lately, they do have one of the best loyalty programs out there. What sets them apart from many, I believe, is how easy it is to earn miles which you can put toward future travel. I did a video some time ago about an app you can download that makes it quite easy to rack up some miles. Check it out!

 



Visit My Youtube Channel Here

Get blog updates via e-mail




A Review of My Apartment

I was originally going to post this on Yelp, as I typically would for a business that's either gone far above or far below the line of good customer service. But, after reading it, I'd rather just share it here instead. Why? A number of reasons, the most important being the management company seems to be extremely "sensitive", and considers even the lightest of remarks as "slander", for which they'll slip a note under your door expecting you to remove it from social media as a violation of the lease. (Observed from someone else's post... I don't know if that's true or not...)

I don't even know if that's legal, but since I don't feel like being evicted, or instigating drama,  I figured I'd share it here instead: 

(Apartment Complex Name):  Mediocre Living, at Its Best

I've been living here for about 2.5 years; I don't love it, and I don't hate it.  

Management:  Used to be better, has been declining since I moved in. Then again, this seems to be a trend wherever I move. I'd like to think I'm not the one bringing bad juju to every apartment complex I move to, but it seems like this is a trend within the industry. Perhaps it's because rules and laws are getting stricter, or profit margins are down so it's harder for rental properties to be profitable... I don't know. There must be some reason for management decline over the years, and here at (Apartment Complex Name) it's no exception. 

When I first moved in, the office staff knew me by name. Everyone was super friendly. Now... not the case anymore. I'm just a number. I'm known only by my apartment number, and that's it. Someone has to look in a computer to learn about me, and by "about me" I mean my payment history and whether or not I've been delinquent on rent.  There's more to me (and anyone else living here) than just my/our financial obligations... 

Property:  Overall, is very nice on the outside...except for the gates that they can't seem to keep working. People seem to crash into them, forcing them to be left open 24 hours a day. Also, the gate entry system doesn't make any sense... you press a button and both sides open at the same time. How is that safe? Some bad guy/girl could just wait by the opposite gate, and let themselves on to the property when someone comes in the opposite front gate. 

A gated community? No. More like...a community with decorative gates, providing no actual security. I brought this up to the management once, and they told me there were many CCTV cameras. I work in the tech field, so I know how to spot one... I have yet to find any. If they have them, as they say they do, they're hidden very well... but I'm not holding my breath. 

Maintenance... Ah, the biggest measure of inconsistency. They either want to help or they don't. It all depends on who's working. 

I'd had HVAC issues for most of last summer, and it took the better part of 5 visits for them to be resolved. I then asked the property manager if there was any kind of compensation I could get for my inconvenience... previous places I'd lived, if there were a problem with the unit, they'd offer a discount on a month or two's rent just to say "Hey, we get that you've been a good on-time-paying tenant, we own up to dropping the ball, here's our way of making it right." -- I'm not expecting a free month's rent, but some kind of concession would be appropriate. I was told, very coldly and without compassion by the manager, "We don't do rent concessions." - I was then offered a carpet cleaning, which I have yet to have done since they don't ever seem to remember this. 

All of that aside... those are relatively minor gripes, in the grand scheme of things. 

The apartment is...for lack of anything else...fine. It's a roof over my head that keeps me safe from bad weather, it keeps me warm in the winter and cool enough in the summer ( it's comfortable, and (other than insufficient closet space) it's got enough room for me to live. If I knew what i know now when  was looking for apartments, I wouldn't have chosen it. Do I regret it? Not really, because nothing catastrophic has happened to me as of yet. I'm hoping that if something like that does come up, though, maybe management/maintenance/etc might be on the upswing of improvement to where it won't be as bad as some other peoples' reviews up here. 

Would I recommend moving here?  Yes and no.

YES if...
- You're an easygoing, calm, patient, and professionally-behaving person
- You don't mind things taking a long time to be fixed
- You don't mind not having a personal relationship with the office staff
- You don't need that sense of security living in an actual gated community (which this isn't)

NO if...
- Minor imperfections in service/etc would prompt you to complain.
- You want the office staff to know you by name, and how you take your coffee.
- You have no patience...for...anything at all. 

Based on another poster's review, the management may see this as "slander" or a means for me to deface their reputation. That's not the intention of this at all. I'm doing my due diligence to write an objective and honest review as a tenant of 2.5 years. This apartment complex isn't for everyone, but it is for you if you align with what I'd described above. I think this place COULD be so much better. It used to be. I think there's tremendous potential for this to truly live up to being as luxurious as it's advertised to be.  

Come in and have a look around, and make the call for yourself, but don't forget about other neighboring properties.

 

As you can see, I'm fairly easygoing, despite my reputation as being overly critical of customer service. I'll admit, I've become a bit more picky when it comes to customer service, but I have basic expectations that I don't believe are unreasonable. I know when it's appropriate to sit back and wait, and I know when something just isn't right when it comes what "should be." 

What do you think of this review? Would you give my complex a shot based on this review? 



Visit My Youtube Channel Here

Get blog updates via e-mail




Real Drums Are Better Than Electronic Drums

It's been too long since I've played an acoustic drum set. From my days in high school in the percussion ensemble, to the shows I played in the pit for, and the gigs out in New York with my band, I miss hitting things and making lots of noise. 

I attribute my hiatus from drumming on real drums to living in various apartments where, understandably, making loud noises with drums wouldn't be looked upon too favorably by the neighbors. Thankfully, I've had an electronic drum set to get me by in the last few years. It's not the same, but 'tis better than nothing. 

I found a rehearsal studio here in town that offers a drummer's practice room; a small space which drummers can rent out for practice. It's even "drummer budget friendly" also - $15 gets me two hours time - perfect! 

I went down the other day and had a lot of fun, and wanted to do it again; this time, I brought some recording gear with me and put together a little video. It's not perfect by any means, but it sure did feel good to get back behind the real drums for a change. Perhaps it's some motivation to find a band to play with now!

 



Visit My Youtube Channel Here

Get blog updates via e-mail




I've Been Busy in the Studio This Year

So far, 2017 has definitely been "The Year of the Studio"

I've been quite busy making music, and it feels great! First, with Tera Johnson's album HOME coming out last month, now I've just added another to my list of releases. Another long time friend from college, Aaron Christenson has just released the first of many EP's entitled "I Am Disaster" recorded by yours truly, in-house at my studio, JBRecording.  I also write a blog post about Aaron's new release, in which you can also listen to the tracks we had done together. 

Aaron and I will be collaborating on 3 more tracks over the summer, so be sure to stay tuned for those coming up later on.  



Visit My Youtube Channel Here

Get blog updates via e-mail




A Visit To The Hope Outdoor Gallery

Visited a very interesting place in Austin - a spot where spray painting on the wall isn't only legal, it's encouraged! On Baylor St downtown is the Outdoor HOPE gallery, a place for artists or anyone with an idea to come and paint in a public place without any opposition. The only caveat is that anything painted up there can be painted over at any time. So, maybe that's a good thing?

I took some great shots around the grounds; it's definitely a place I'd like to go for a longer period of time and maybe do a portrait session there.  Anyone in the Austin area want to have their pictures taken there? Let me know! 

I look forward to going back down there in a month or so, to see what's changed. 

 



Visit My Youtube Channel Here

Get blog updates via e-mail




360-Degree Content - Apparently, it's a thing!

We love to shoot pictures and video with our phones or our favorite cameras, and these images can be anything from a captured moment at a family gathering, to a picturesque scene from an exotic island paradise. But...what about everything that's outside of the field of view? Evidently, some folks have been crafting ways to capture images that don't have a limited field of view. These images capture 360 degrees all around, and make the resultant file more of an immersive experience for the viewer. 

As someone who sure does "love his gadgets", I wanted to check this out and get in on the phenomenon... so, I started out my research by finding out what I need to do such a thing. Turns out there are a few cameras on the market that do this, ranging in price from a few hundred dollars all the way up to a few thousand. Since I didn't want to break the bank on something so new, I went for the cost-effective alternative. I picked up an Insta360 Nano camera from Amazon:

And instantly started playing around with it.  I shot a little test video... nothing overly riveting, but if you watch below, you can actually pan around (either with your finger, or by moving your phone around if you're watching on a mobile device) and feel like you're right there in the car with my friend and I. 

Since this format is still very new, playback isn't fully supported on certain web browsers and devices. If you want a fully immersive experience, click here to visit the video directly (Use Google Chrome if on a desktop browser) or get to the video in the YouTube app on your mobile device to get the panning around experience. 

What I mean by that, is while watching the video, you can pan your phone around and it will pan the video playback to give you that different vantage point; almost as if you're using your phone as a portal to view the action of the video from different angles. Very cool!

The video quality isn't super crystal clear, and I think that comes from the fact that it's still an incredibly new technology,  and this was created to hit a price point more so than a certain level of quality. 

Let's not forget about pictures, though, because I think this is actually where this camera does a better job.  Here are a few 360 pictures that I shot, which you can manually pan around with your finger to get the full experience. 

 

I intend to take some great pictures of my upcoming vacation and some other fun things around here and there.  Now, Periscope has granted the ability for users to broadcast in 360, so be sure to follow me on Periscope so you can be notified when I go live. 



Visit My Youtube Channel Here

Get blog updates via e-mail




Hold On

Those two words can mean so many different things...  

It's a physical thing... Like, while on the subway, "The train is about to move... Hold on!" 

Or... when you're on the phone with someone, and you've got someone ringing your door bell... 

"Hold on..." 

Or if you're going through a really tough time, and your best friend while consoling you says "It'll be okay, just hold on..."

It's also the title of a classic song from when I was growing up, that's always been one of my favorites. That being said, just a little bit of backstory:

 

I've always been truly humbled and blessed to have such wonderful and talented people in my life. Last year, I started working on a project with one such friend, Tera Johnson who called me up out of the blue (we hadn't seen one another in 15 years)  and said, "Hey, I'd like to do an album with you."  The last time we'd been in a studio together was when we were both in college, and recording some project for either one of hers or one of my classes. 

We'd kept in touch through Facebook as many of us do these days,  but it's usually limited to seeing whatever someone shares to their profile. Pictures of kids, fun times, vacation posts, rants, etc... it's not the same as staying truly connected. 

I couldn't say "no" to her request; I was truly humbled that she wanted to work with me again after all this time. She booked a plane and came down here to Austin some time after that phone call, and it began back in early 2016. She showed me some of the songs she'd been writing as of late, and some that she wanted to put together into a new album project entitled "Home".

After the first day's work in the studio, we were relaxing and unwinding, and decided to watch the movie Bridesmaids - a truly hilarious film. For those unaware, the song "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips is featured in the movie, as one the lead character and her bestie hold dear. As the movie was ending, Tera said "Hey we should go record that!" - Even after we'd worked all day in the studio, but both being the artists that we are, went up and did just that. 

A few hours later, and some looks of surprise and exclamations of "Hey, this actually sounds pretty good!" - the song made it to the album, and is now the last track on Tera's newest album HOME. We didn't stop there, though. In addition to the song being the last on the record, it's the first of a few music videos to come out for the new album. 

You can find more information about Tera on her website, terajohnson.com,  her Facebook, and her YouTube Channel

Enjoy!

Check out our first music video for the album HOME...I know it's a cover of a classic, but it was this very song that inspired us during one of our late night jam sessions in the studio when we began making this album back in May 2016...Enjoy!

 

 



Visit My Youtube Channel Here

Get blog updates via e-mail




First Bike Ride in a Long Time

It's been a while since I'd been on a bicycle. I bought one shortly after moving to Austin in 2014, and I rode it a few times, but it then sat in my garage, as bikes can do from time to time. 

February 10, 2015

February 10, 2015

As with any regimen to get healthy, exercise is a vital part of success, as is eating right and making better choices. I decided to get my bike out from the garage today, and get it looked at down at the bike shop since the tires had gone flat and it could use a little TLC.

I was in and out in less than 20 minutes at the bike shop, so I decided to take it out for a little ride at a park near my apartment. I didn't overdo it, but I have a good idea for a benchmark to hit for the next few rides. I'll work my way up to riding longer, and faster, but for today I was very happy with what I did. I don't know the exact distance, probably half a mile or so. I felt good afterwards, though, and I guess that's the best part. 

I had one of my little action cams with me, so I made a little video. Why not, right?



Visit My Youtube Channel Here

Get blog updates via e-mail