IT seems I have the most rotten luck when it comes to traveling to New Jersey. I stayed home the week before because I was sick and I just missed another “bombocalyse” that decided to hit the north east with crazy amounts of snow. Since I was feeling better I went up to NJ for work and little did I know but there was another snow storm coming. I had already been trapped by snow in NJ in early January when I first heard the term “bombocalypse” which caused me to go all the way to Philly to catch a flight home the next day.
This time the snow storm hit on a Wednesday and it was a whopper. One of the heaviest snow storms I’ve ever experienced in the north east ever. I made the mistake of going into the office with the intention of going home in the early afternoon. As usual work decided to rear its ugly head and I stayed until about 5PM. I attempted to leave work but only made it maybe a mile before I turned around to go back to the office to wait it out. The snow was so heavy I didn’t even realize that I had crested a hill. It was true white out conditions, could barely see in front of me, the road didn’t even exist and there was at least 8 inches of new powder on the ground. It didn’t help things that I was in a Mercedes Benz CLA250 instead of an SUV. I will admit though, the car was able to drive in the snow like a champ but I would still never buy one myself.
I decided to take some pictures during the day to show the progression of the snow. It started nice and slow but as the afternoon crept up it got really bad. Apparently the office lost power because the diesel generators in the parking garage were on but it was pretty seamless, I never even knew the power was out. Some of my co-workers who decided to stay at the hotel sent me a text message that the hotel had lost power and its generator ran out of gas. Well that wasn’t encouraging in the least since I didn’t have any dinner that evening. I ended up leaving at around 8:30 from the office, the snow had generally stopped which was good but there were lots of places where there wasn’t power and this was really wet and heavy snow.
The following day the roads were pretty clear but one of my usual paths to work, the road was closed due to downed power lines and downed trees. Needless to say it was very pretty to drive through and I took a picture from my car when there was no one on the road with me just to capture the moment (using my iPhone 7 of course). What was nice is that they cleared up the roads and more importantly the airport so I wasn’t stranded this week. That would have really peeved me since I don’t like flight delays of any kind especially ones caused by weather. This coming week there is no travel for me so I won’t have to worry about getting caught in another freak snow storm. The only place I’m interested in seeing a ton of snow is at Breckenridge in about 2 weeks. Thats when my spring break begins (yeah I’m going skiing in spring) and I want lots of fresh powder to ski in.
I was cruising 9to5toys.com a few days ago and I saw a great deal on robot vacuums on Newegg.com. I went over to Amazon and decided to read up on the reviews and the one that was on sale had some pretty decent ones. For about $140 bucks, these things were downright cheap since most vacuums are over $200. This isn’t my first foray with a robot vacuum, I had one very very briefly over the holidays by EcoVacs. The difference between the EcoVacs and the iLife is that the other one had a mop and could be controlled by an iPhone. The iLife can only be controlled by the included remote control and I can’t use my Echo Dot to control it either but to me thats ok. I’m not very trustful of the internet of things just yet and I don’t want the vacuum trying to attack my puppy while I’m away from home.
I haven’t set the vacuums up (yep I got one for upstairs and one for downstairs) but they’ll probably run on two different schedules. Upstairs will likely be running during the day and the one downstairs will be running at night. The hope is that the majority of the dust in the house will be cleaned up by the robot vacuums leaving us not so much to clean afterwards. I’ll have to try these out for a few days or weeks but if they are anything like the EcoVac, these things should be up to the task of at least getting the daily dust off the floor and into the trash.
The reason for 2 vacuums was mainly because they need to clean upstairs and downstairs and bringing the one vacuum up and down the stairs is a pain in the butt. I had already done this with the previous vacuum and it didn’t really work out so well. The price of two of these vacuums essentially equaled a single robot vacuum of almost every other brand. When I had the EcoVacs it picked up a ton of dirt when I just let it roam around. It was fun to control with my iPhone and stuff but its not essential and the less things connected to my network the better, although having the garage door hooked up to my phone would be totally sweet. The iLife can be programmed which is exactly what I need. Just set it and forget it kind of vacuum. I think I’ll see if I can make it only run during the week, the weekends are too unpredictable and besides, it will be nice to have the robots clean up after me during the week.
I’m curious to know how loud these things are, they can’t be much louder than the EcoVac I had. That thing was really good at picking up dirt but it was a little bit on the loud side. Thats why I think my schedule will work out well, when the vacuum runs, people won’t be in that area of the house so it shouldn’t bother us while it goes to work. The fact that it will find its base on its own will be cool too so it can charge and go on its own. The only problem I see is that it doesn’t have sensors to keep it away from certain areas. I would have liked to keep it away from the downstairs carpet since the other vacuum got stuck on it or away from the wires that are upstairs but I can block that off.
The age of robots is upon us, let it do my bidding and clean my floors!
I use the Paper by 53 app for most of my sketches whether at home or while traveling. I have purchased Procreate (when it was on sale of course) but I really haven’t touched it after attempting to use it a few times. I’m just a simple person that makes stick figures most of the times or use basic geometric shapes to convey what I’m telling people. I am trying to keep a little book of doodles for my daughter of things that she has accomplished by trying to draw her badges. I have been remiss on doing it but I was trying to catch up on doing it on my flight to San Francisco. I even brought my Pencil by 53 just to do it. I’m working on her snowboard badges by attempting to draw the mountain logo of where she has shredded. The current logo is a bit difficult for me, but I thought hell I have 5 hours to kill on the plane I can do this! NOPE! Absolute fail on my part.
I forgot that planes tend to encounter turbulence and my art skills are already shaky as it is. Having a plane jitter under your iPad while attempting to free hand draw a straight line just isn’t possible. I wasn’t even going for the full logo, I was trying to draw the Kidtopia logo since that was technically easier for me to draw than the actual logo for Keystone. After a few fits and starts I kind of gave up on it. I was going to type this out on my iPad but again, the plane jitters in the air which makes it difficult. I’m writing this on my iPhone 7 since turbulence doesn’t affect my typing skills when holding it in both hands.
Of course as I’m writing this we have hit a patch of smooth air so I could conceivably try drawing again. I’ll just make a copy of my drawing to keep my current master piece intact. That’s the one area that I think Procreate is better than Paper, it has layers to control these sorts of things. I guess I still prefer more simplicity in my apps. There are hundreds of brushes to choose from as well as individual settings that can be tweaked to create a master piece of iPad art. I still use colored pencils and a notebook for most drawings so I guess it’s hard for me to break away from that construct even in the digital age. Kind of amusing actually since I have done my best to delete paper from every other aspect of my work and home life (where possible) to reduce clutter.
Below is the badge I made in paper last year. It was her first year snowboarding and we did it at Snowbird. I try to incorporate the logo of the mountain with some junk that I think represents the area. On the top is the snowbird logo along with a simple mountain and crossed snowboards. She used Burton boots and a Burton board but I happened to have a K2 board when I tried snowboarding which is why I included that logo. I definitely didn’t make this on a plane, I had a nice steady surface in Florida to sketch this out after the trip was over. If I have time I’ll work on the logo for last year this week if inspiration strikes. I suspect making these logos will be easier with an Apple Pencil, it won’t have a squishy tip like my current Pencil and I can be more precise so I can move away from 3rd grade sketches to something approaching a high school freshman.
Beverage service is here! Hopefully I won’t spill my drink on my computer bag.
I’m done for now with New Jersey and heading back to Cali! It seems that work always takes me out to the Bay Area when its for work. There is never any work in San Diego or Los Angeles no matter what firm I join. I am only going out for a week this time around so it won’t be one of those really long projects where I’m there for a few months on end and can make a killing on points and miles. I like the Bay Area a lot, SFO always has nice rental cars and I’m hoping to score another Camero that I can speed around the area in. Hotels are alright, they’re way too expensive but thats because there is a lack of rooms available and there are always tech conferences or consultants running around all the time. Me included!
Best part about going to the Bay Area in Feb? Its not as cold as New Jersey and there is no threat of snow, maybe a fire or a mud slide but no snow! The snow might be on the route my plane takes to get home but thats something I can’t really gripe about, all that matters now is that I can leave the winter jacket behind in my closet until my ski trip in March. The only issue with being in Mountain View is that there isn’t a lot that I want to see in the area in terms of sights. And the sights that I would want to see are more parks than anything else and its heavily urbanized. If the Bay Area has one thing that peeves me to the core its bad traffic and they have it in spades. Although maybe I’ll have some time to visit some friends while I’m there. Maybe I should charge up my bluetooth selfie stick for the trip?
I’m all packed up and ready to go, and one last perk….. I don’t have to wake up before the sun to catch my direct flight to Cali, we’ll just wake up together instead.
I finished up at my New Jersey client today but the picture I took yesterday as I left Newark. I was potentially going to another New Jersey client but I got out of it somehow (for now) so I’m hoping that this will be the final shot of New Jersey for 2018 and that my firm will send me somewhere else for the rest of the year. I try and get nice shots from the plane like this during sunset, which is normally when I travel. I had some really great shots over the years that I’ve touched up a little bit here and there with Camera+. This one happens to be untouched and straight from my iPhone 7. I normally don’t sit behind the engines on the A321 but for my last flight I was unable to get score a main cabin extra seat.
The iPhone 7 camera really is pretty awesome with its image stabilization and overall great quality. I still haven’t figured out how to take really good night shots of the moon or anything like that but its only a matter of time. My wife recently got an Aukey zoom lens for the iPhone 7/8 and it works quite well. If I could take it with me I would but I already keep too many things in my work bag.
I’m hoping that the next trip (I already know that I’m going to California at least for next week) takes me to a different city that I haven’t been to. I’m always going to the NYC area, somewhere in Cali, Chicago, or Atlanta. I need to see some place new so that I can take some new pictures with my phone, Well technically I did go to Kansas City but I forgot to take any pictures there and it was after sunset when I used to take off so I couldn’t take anything decent. LA or San Diego would be cool or maybe some other place in the mid west just to shake things up.
Tomorrow is soccer championship day, I’m going to take some pictures and hopefully my daughter’s team will win it all. I have plenty of storage space left on my phone so maybe I can take some 4K video (well at least 1080P). The only weak part of this setup will be the battery of my iPhone 7 which drains a lot when taking tons of pictures or video. If next year’s iPhone has a ridiculous camera I just might upgrade from the iPhone 7 but if not I’ll try and wait another year since I can only spend $1000 every few years for a phone.
Extended car warranties aren’t half bad. I’ve actually used the one I bought for my van a couple of times now and it’s basically paid for itself. Most advice is to shun said warranties because of their cost and maybe you won’t use it so you’re out some money but it’s like insurance, you pay a ton of cash for a service you may or may not use. To date I’ve had the timing belt tensioner replaced (my most recent repair) and the engine mounts replaced. All told that would have set me back $2K which was about the price I paid for the warranty.
So why a warranty for my van? For one thing it’s a Touring Elite so it is jam packed with every electronic device that Honda could put into it in 2012. Also I had read that there might be engine or transmission troubles based on some past models that concerned me and since I knew the van would be used a lot it made sense to me to get the extended warranty for the power train. The warranty covered all the electronics too and from my experience with my older Acura, that can cause all types of headaches but so far so good on that front (knock on wood). The process itself was simple enough, just give Honda (yes I go to the dealer for repairs but only those that aren’t routine) the phone number for claims and they do all the paper work to get paid and I just drive away after signing that the work is complete.
Now I didn’t get an extended warranty for my Accord because it is just an airport car. I’ve owned it for almost 4 years and I’m still under 12K miles and the Accord has been solid except for the radio but that’s pervasive with the car and there’s nothing I can do to fix it. Also since it’s an airport car it just drives on the highway so it’s not subject to a lot of stop and go daily driving and I bought a lower model so it doesn’t have all the nice electronic goodies my van has (can you tell that I love my van?).
The particular warranty that I got for the van was from a place called Warranty Direct which is a third party provider. This is helpful to me since I can go anywhere for repairs and I can use Warranty Direct rather than having to go to a specific dealership. Rick Case Honda which is where I normally get service has their own free 10 year 100K mile warranty but you have to get the work done at their dealership. I also didn’t buy my car from there and Autonation Honda of Hollywood didn’t offer such an awesome extended warranty. Not to mention its really far away from my home and I don’t want to go there just for service. My car might not make it in the event of a bad defect. Depending on the next car I get, I might get another extended warranty but thats what research is for or unless I get a really awesome deal, then I’m getting it anyway with the savings.
Well 2018 travel is so far a bust. I thought this year would be good since I have status and stuff but turns out that isn’t the case at all. I’m trapped here in NJ until Saturday essentially because of a huge ass snow storm that came out of nowhere essentially. There isn’t really that much snow on the ground so its not like there’s over a foot of snow that needs digging. There weren’t any flights leaving Newark so I’m going to have to drive all the way down to Philadelphia tomorrow evening so I can catch a Saturday morning flight. What weakness!!!
Now I’m here back in the Embassy Suites in NJ eating Wendy’s (because Jersey has terrible eating options and I’m not in the mood to drive far for better food) typing up this blog post since I don’t have a lot of other things to do other than watching YouTube or surfing the internet. I’m not looking forward to the drive tomorrow after work and even less of staying near the airport which is so close but my flight is so far away in terms of time. If my luck holds I might not be coming to Jersey for much longer and instead will be going to California again which I don’t mind. At least its not nearly as cold and I will rake in the miles since I’m American Airlines platinum pro. I’m not going to get free upgrades but getting 80% bonus miles is definitely a huge plus.
I’m hoping the drive tomorrow is uneventful. At least my rental car has CarPlay and a nice powerful engine to speed down I-95. Here’s hoping my flight on Saturday isn’t all messed up.