Choosing My First Concealed Carry Pt.1

Over the past 3 months, I’ve gone through the process of obtaining my concealed carry license and my first firearm. It’s been a long and laborious procedure.

Getting the license itself was not problem. I scored a 245 out of 250 on my shooting proficiency test and the written test was not a challenge. The extended length of the process was due more to my inability to make a decision and choose the gun I want to carry.

The weapon that I utilized to train and certify was a borrowed Springfield XD-M 9mm. I loved the feel and performance of the semi-automatic handgun, even though it had one FTE (failure to eject). Because of that experience, my research began centered on small, 9mm semi-automatics. I had no idea how dizzying the experience would be. I believed I had narrowed the field to three guns. In reality, it was only the beginning.

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Old Tech Ain’t Always Bad Tech

LG220CI consider myself to be slightly behind the bleeding edge of tech innovation. I’m not one of these guys who will jump on some new gadget the day it comes out, but I know about it and I’ll probably have my hands on it before too long. Being 50+ in age, I’ve seen my fair share of new gadgets. I remember well how amazing it was to have a fax machine and sit around staring at it waiting for orders to come in. And I fully realize that the smartphone I carry has more technology in it than Apollo 11 carried, and has had for several years.

That’s why I am slightly surprised how much I’ve enjoyed my new 5-year old clamshell flip phone.

“Le me splain. No. There is too much. Le me sum up.” My contract with AT&T has passed the two year mark, so I am free to either upgrade and get stuck for another couple of years, or go elsewhere. As I was considering my options, Google lowered their prices on the Nexus 4 by $100. That made the Nexus basically the same price as a new phone with new-contract pricing. I jumped.

I love my Nexus 4, but that’s another blog entry. As Inigo Montoya said, “there is too much.” I began to research options other than AT&T. They’ve been good to me and I’ve been with them almost a decade now. Still, they are pretty pricey in the grand scheme of things. After some research, I settled on Straight Talk as the best option for me, but I did not want to just jump and port my number into their system without some further testing.

Which led me to my clamshell. Straight Talk’s lowest level of service is called “All You Need” or something similarly silly. It includes 1000 minutes, 1000 texts and a pitiful 30MB of web access for only $30. That’s the equivalent of one meal at Montelongo’s for my family. I figured it’s worth a test.

I did not want to buy a new phone just to try their service. As I looked through their offerings, I ran across a refurbished LG 220C. It was free with the $30 one-month plan. Why not? I can try out a 2nd line for a month just to see if Shallowater and Straight Talk are a good fit.

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How I Lost 23 lbs and 4 Inches (and Counting) in 45 Days

dietI’ve had a lot of questions from many people regarding my weight loss (and my wife’s as well – she’s down 11 lbs). I thought it would be a lot easier to just blog about it. So here goes.

Before I dig into this, let me state up front that this is not something I am trying to sell, nor do I wish to sign you up for an MLM system. I just figure if this is working for me, maybe it might work for you. And by the way, the plan is FREE.

Who Created It?

My wife found the program online. She’s not even sure how she stumbled across it in the first place. It’s called the 21-Day Diet from BioTrust. BioTrust is a nutrition company and they sell all kinds of supplements for diets and healthy living. Some of these products are suggested in the diet, although we did not purchase anything from them. I’m sure their stuff is good. We just chose not to purchase any.

How Does It Work?

I’m not a nutritionist or a diet guru, but here’s my understanding of how this thing works. Most diets function in such a manner that, after a while, the body begins to figure out what you’re doing and start storing away fat for reserve. The 21-Day Diet intentionally mixes things up from day to day so that your body won’t have the chance to store anything.

In case you haven’t figured it yet, 21 days is 3 weeks. Each week follows the same pattern, but the pattern itself is varied regarding what you’re eating. The diet requires you to eat 6 meals per day. None are big meals, although the way it’s structured, we generally had a pretty big evening meal anyway.

For each week, you have 5 days of meals, 1 day of protein shakes and 1 day of fasting (clear liquids are allowed). The meal days are mixed up so that one day you eat only proteins and fats, while the next you eat only proteins and carbs.

The shakes are sold by BioTrust, but we found a nice (read: cheap) alternative at Walgreens. The fasting day is really not so hard, if you’ve never done it. We would use bullion cubes in hot water at meal times so we felt like we weren’t going bonzo on water and tea.

The meal requirements are pretty structured and it takes some planning and commitment. BioTrust gives you a listing of everything that falls under each heading: protein, fats and carbs. You have a wide choice of foods from which to choose. Basically, we ate what we normally eat, but in specific portions and combinations. Also, all veggies are free. Anytime. We would load up on zucchini, broccoli, green beans, carrots, etc., oftentimes adding soy sauce or teriyaki and throwing it in the wok.

After the 21 days, they have a program called Day 22. It’s basically an ongoing thing that’s very similar to the 21-Day Diet, just a lot more loose. I’ve honestly felt like we weren’t dieting. Most of the time we felt full and really didn’t want to eat. Supposedly, six meals each day keeps your metabolism going and you burn fat faster. Whatever it does, it works, and works well.

You can download the PDF that explains everything from this link. The PDF is free and it lays everything out for you.

Let me know if you try it. I’d love to hear how it works for other folks. We’re still going on Day 22. I started at 275 lbs. I’m down to 252 as of today (Aug 25, 2013) and my first goal is 240 lbs. by mid-November. After that, we’ll see what happens.

Good luck!

Update:

As of Christmas Day 2013, I am down to 230 lbs. That’s 45 pounds lost and I’ve never really felt like I was dieting. I am looking for ways to add exercise to the mix. After 4 knee surgeries, my options are somewhat limited, although I feel like a new man and walking across the room is no longer painful. I’m seriously considering a stationary bike.

Also, since this was first posted, BioTrust has started charging for their diet info. The link above has been changed and you must register and pay a small fee (less than $10, I believe). They make it kind of hard to figure it out. Let me know if you need help. Good luck!

Dispersing Acoustical Myths

Today’s post is by a good friend of mine, Greg Jackson. He uses his humor and dry wit to present an otherwise dusty topic… handling acoustical issues in your room.

Cave ArtThe arcane science of acoustic design can be dated back to the earliest cave-dwellers, who have been found, through archeological excavation, to have hung animal pelts from the walls to keep their domiciles from feeling so “live.”

That’s not true. It was an allegory. About a cave. But it sounded good, no? Such is the case with a lot of the information floating around out there relating to acoustics: it sounds great, but it’s malarky. We see it a lot in regards to studio design, but it reaches a lot further than that. I had a guy call once that had a large, noisy piece of machinery in a room, and was wondering how many absorption panels he needed to buy to keep it from being heard outside. Answer? However many you need to stack under it to raise it a foot off the floor.

We’ve all experienced bad acoustics, whether we knew it or not. Gyms are an obvious example, but consider the restaurant that is so reflective, you have to shout to get your wife to hear you over the sound of utensils clanging together, or the doctor’s office where you can hear his conversation with the guy in the next exam room (that’s why the people in the waiting room were snickering when you left). The best way to dispel myth is with a little education, so, armed with the sword of truth, let’s hack to pieces the enemy forces of ignorance and let forth the battle cry “Scientia Potentia Est!!!” (Hey, I didn’t know GI Joe spoke Latin!)

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Choosing a Projector

projectorSee if this scenario sounds familiar to you in any way: Mark needs a new projector for his facility but he’s not sure what to get. To avoid buying the wrong equipment, he talks to one of the people in charge of “tech” at his organization. The suggestion comes back that surely a 3500 lumen projector will be plenty of oomph (a good tech term) for the room. An order is placed and two weeks later, Mark has a new projector. Not only that, they also purchased a shiny new ceiling mount to hang their oomphy projector.

Mark and Mr. Tech get into the facility on a Saturday afternoon to install the projector. The first thing they do is try it on a cart to see where it should be installed. After turning it on and waiting for it to warm up, they begin to wonder how long it will take to get to full brightness. After a few moments, they realize it IS at full brightness, which will be somewhat dim for this room. Ok, they can deal with that. They roll the cart back to the spot where they would like to install the ceiling mount, only to find that they cannot zoom the projector to fill the screen completely (or it is too big and they can’t get it small enough). When they find the spot that actually works, they find they cannot install the ceiling mount because there’s a big (you fill in the bank… light, beam, etc) in the way. So… now what?

This scenario is, unfortunately, all too familiar in churches and businesses everywhere. How do you know what kind of projector to look for? Where do you start?

Considerations

There are many factors that come into play when choosing a projector. Let me address just a few that will get you pointed in the right direction. Here are a few questions you need to consider:

1. What is the intended use or application? Is this for a classroom or boardroom? Maybe it’s a portable church. Is this an established room that needs a permanent install? Each application calls for a different solution and it’s all too easy to grab the wrong projector, pay too much money for too much power, or undershoot your needs.

2. What is your screen size and ratio? Do you need 4:3 (standard) or 16:9 (widescreen)? While most projectors will adapt to what signal your sending, it’s always best to have a projector that’s native to your ratio. Otherwise you’ll end up with wasted screen space in the form of letter boxing or columns. You’ll also need your actual screen size for calculation as we’ll discuss in a moment.

3. What is your distance available for projection? This will be a major determination for your projector concerning brightness and throw ratio.

4. How much ambient light is present in your room? Do you have a large number of windows? What about projected light? Are your lights suspended from a low ceiling, forcing your lights to be lower than a 45 degree angle and possibly throwing light on your screen?

5. Are you planning front projection or rear projection?

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Melodyne: Tuning Vocals… and Tuning Guitars, Keyboards and Other Things During the Mix

melodyne

This post will most likely find a much smaller interested audience than my last post, which topped half a million readers (craziness!). This time I’m talking to that unique demographic of people who spend countless hours in the engineer’s chair at a recording studio. So, for the 12 people who will read this, I’ve discovered a wonderful program called Melodyne.

For years, I’ve been involved in vocal production for studio projects. I am always striving to get the best sound, as any engineer would do. Some musical styles call for that slightly out of tune floating-around-the-pitch sound. I am not involved in much of that. My stable of projects either have a full band with a lead vocal and background vocals that need tuning, or a complete a capella song where everything needs tuning.

For years, I’ve used a program called Autotune. Most people have heard of this, since it was popularized by its overuse, resulting in robotic voicing. I believe Cher was one of the first to do this back in the 90’s. It’s so popular it has resulted in a slew of iOS apps that achieve the same result for the fun of it. Too much.

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The Secret Behind the “Like” Button

Facebook header

I have long held suspicions that the Like button on Facebook is not your friend.

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the pictures floating around Facebook that seem to make no sense. There seems to be no end to the litany of crossword puzzles asking you to “type the first word you see.” Maybe you’ve seen a picture of… well, almost anything that might elicit a reaction, asking you to “share if you agree, Like of you don’t.”

How about the innumerable political posts, calling for impeachment or support? Are all those posts really put out there by people who care? Then, of course, you see a good number of “If I get 100,000 likes, my dad will take me to Disneyland.” It all seems quite innocent, but you need to understand that this is big business, and commenting or liking is not in your best interest.

prism

Here’s a perfect example: have you seen the colorful picture of a prism with the image from the cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album in it? It’s accompanied buy the caption: “OMG it really works! Step 1: Click on the Picture. Step 2: Hit Like. Step 3: Comment “MOVE” Then see the Magic!!” The picture has 1000’s of likes and comments, so there MUST be something to this. You make the leap, click and comment, and BOOM… crickets.

While what you expect to happen obviously doesn’t, something else happens. Your activity has now spread this image and the page into the news feed of all your friends.

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What Happens When an iOS Fanboy Buys an Android Tablet

Nexus7I fully admit I am an avid, Kool-aid drinking fanboy of Apple products. I have used 2 different iPads in my past couple of jobs, going from an iPad2 to the 3 with the retina display. I am on my 3rd iPhone. I’m still using my 2008 Macbook Pro and it continues to run like a champ in 2013 and I just recorded a new album on my 2006 Mac Pro Quad and it never even hiccuped. Apple just has great quality products that deliver consistently excellent results.

Since I’ve begun working for myself at Moyers Design, I had to give up my iPad3 and have been without a tablet for over a year. I got to the point that I needed a tablet in order to fully function as a mobile professional. The trouble was, I didn’t have $350 to drop on an iPad mini. After some exposure to the Android operating system (you can read my account of that in this post), I decided to give it a try for about a third less in total cost.

This Apple fanboy bought a Google Nexus 7.

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Hyena Eyes: A Story of North Africa

jumjum

We have some friends who are missionaries in northern Africa, I cannot say where. It amazes me what they go through on a daily basis (with their two small children… one, a baby) in their efforts to serve the Lord and the Muslim population. They have a new post on their blog that came in today and I felt like I needed to share it with my readers. It certainly puts things into perspective. The following is a slightly edited version of a normal daily entry from North Africa.


On Facebook I have seen lots of people refer to “#firstworld problems”; these issues are usually about various technological devices or modern conveniences. I also have some friends who have made jokes of “#thirdworld problems” which usually involve latrines or various animals in unexpected places. But this week I have decided we need a third category, something along the lines of “First-world-people-in-the-third-world problems.” Those problems that only those few first-world people have, but we only have them when we are in the third-world. I have had several lately. They include:

When you read at night, big moths keep turning the pages of your kindle touch.

Or, you can’t fit all the stuff you brought on the chartered airplane in your mud hut.

Or, you don’t have any clean clothes because the ladies who hand wash your clothes all ran off on “Tribal Warfare Day.” (A long story for another time…)

Or, you can only send emails on your laptop because the internet access in the aforementioned mud hut is really crappy.

Because of that last particular problem I have been blogging by sending my mom emails (when we can get them to go out) that she then posts on blogger for me.

It’s been a good week! It still isn’t raining yet but several blustery storms have rumbled through bringing with them the sweet tang of rain that smells dark and leafy green, like the salad I have been craving. Whether our bodies are just adjusting to the heat or it has actually cooled off some, I’m not sure but I have been enjoying those moments that I am not sweating profusely.

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Spring Break

If you follow my blog at all, you may have noticed that I’ve been particularly quiet as of late. I decided, mostly after the fact, to take a sabbatical from blogging during the month of April.

Hello May. Time to get back at it.

I am considering a facelift for the site as well. We’ll see about that. Either way, I’ll have more posts for you soon. Thanks for reading…