Fort DeSoto County Park - a Short Visit

Every other weekend, we try and head out on some sort of quick little adventure ... if we're feeling up to it.

So, a couple weeks ago, we headed out to a new park in St. Pete. This park is actually one of the top rated parks in the entire U.S. So I was pretty excited to get over there. It turned out to be a pretty good bargain, to actually get into this place. Usually when you head towards the beach in Florida, you have to pay for parking once you get there. And that will typically run us several dollars. To get to this park we did have to pay a couple of tolls, but the total ended up being about $0.75 (at the time of this writing anyhow).

And the best part is - you actually get to enjoy a fairly massive park complex, with all kinds of activities and things to do.

Here's a couple of photos from our stop:
One thing I want to say - take notice of the blue sky in the canon picture. I'll finish this off with a discussion of that sky.

It is a 'Fort', by the way. And it was our first time there ... thus the military parts in the pictures. As you'll see below, we probably would have more exploratory pictures, but our visit was cut short.

It turns out ... this is an excellent park. There are trails to run, walk, or bike. There are tons of beaches to lounge and play on. There's plenty of fishing and boating areas. And it's a fairly large park, so it can accommodate quite a few recreationers.

Anyhow ...

I wanted to finish this post by talking about Florida weather. You'll notice the nice blue sky above the canon in the picture. Well, we probably walked around the park for about 30 minutes. You can see, the skies were pretty nice. I mean - you could tell it was cloudy over the water. And then at the end of our exploration, we stopped in and bought some overpriced food for our starving children. As we were eating the food, all of the sudden ... from the Gulf side ... this gigantic monsoon storm blows in. The way these HUGE storms just roll in during the afternoon is insane. Beach clearing thunder and lightning. Torrential rain that leaks in under the door of the building, and howling winds that look like they're going to blow the trees over. It's just the most uncanny thing to see.

We had originally gone to the beach to play in the water, and needless-to-say, we didn't go near the water after the storm came rolling in.

However - it was a superb park - well worth spending a whole lot more time checking out in the future. So, I'm sure we'll be back for more fun in the sun.



Photography and Biking ... a Potent Combination

I've never really been overly intrigued by bike or cycling photos.

But I really took notice of some of the background shots during this year's Tour de France. And, I've even been asking Christy if she would take some shots of me and my buddy (Turbo) in action.

I imagine if the stars all line up properly, we'll be able to take some action pics some day soon. However, I was totally thrilled to see this 'behind the scenes' commentary on a mountain biking cover photo shoot.

Sounds like a pretty sweet job - mashing up biking with picture taking.

Behind the scenes: MBUK cover shoot

Magazine cover pictures don't get much attention from most readers, but that's kind of the way they're supposed to work.
MBUK wanted a shot to illustrate a technique feature on fast descending.
Planning is everything for a shoot like this, so time spent at this stage can save a lot of hassle later on. Searching for a location can easily eat up a whole day
Still, you've got to work with what you have.
a rider who isn't happy, incidentally, will never ride at their best, so this stage isn't just a formality
With this kind of setup, involving a high speed descent and a single shot per pass, it's hard work for the rider.
Here's the end result, after having a new sky inserted and a little Photoshop work on the foreground and background.

Find Your Friends Facebook Locations with this ...

I'm not sure exactly how I feel about this app.

But, I'm sure there will be a few people out there who really like the idea. And, truth be told, it would have been awesome to have locations of our friends and family as we traveled cross country.

Anyhow - it maps out your friend's locations as listed in Facebook. So, now all your old buddies, who you're friends with but don't really know why, can figure out how to find you and come bug you and your family.
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Scope Out Your Facebook Friends' Locations on Google Maps

I saw this app on Digital Inspiration, and what's great about it is that if you're planning on doing some traveling and you're wondering if you're going to know anyone at your destination, Map Motive will instantly show you on a Google Map who is currently located in that city or town. But keep in mind, if any of your Facebook friends have their info set to private, you won't be able to see where they are on the map.


Altered Book Art Project - WOW!

Some of you follow Christy's paper craft projects over at

If you've seen any of her past projects, then you know she is always on the lookout for new, interesting paper craft ideas.

So, when this project came across our desk, I knew I just had to share it. It is amazing!
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Altered book art

varied roundup of paper art made by modifying old books.


Google Mapping where No Car can go

You've seen the amazing Google maps street view - right? Well, now, they are trying to go one step further with a bike, and pedestrian, model.

How cool is that! Where can I sign up to be one of their riders?
Google Maps Street View capture... from a bike
they're deploying people on bikes to capture images of trails where you can't take cars
The readout on the handlebars shows the regions covered so far, and the amount of disk space available.
He says they'll probably be available through the Google Maps interface in two to three months.

Eureka ... Now I know WHY my kids are so smart!

You simply must read this article. It revealed, for the first time, why my kids are so smart.

And for all of you who thought it was me who gave them such stunning intellect, I may not have impacted the girls as much as I thought.

Apparently my sexy wife had a LOT more to do with it than I gave her credit for.

Read on to learn more:

Booty and brains sit well together. Curvy-figured mothers have children with better cognitive abilities.
A woman's eye-popping hourglass figure offers drooling men more than just an irresistible image. Shapely hips and thighs hold essential nutrients that nurse brains and could produce smart kids too
women with low waist-to-hip ratios (WHR) have children with better cognitive abilities than less curvy mothers.

3 Day Weekends ... Could they become a reality?

When I used to work at the Intel Fab, we had 3 and 4 day weekends EVERY week. Talk about outstanding time for relaxation and free time.

For some reason that concept has not caught on in the cubicle world.

However, maybe with some people actually thinking about cost savings, energy savings ... and workers wondering how they can claim more freedom ... the 4 day workweek might start gaining some popularity.

Check out this recent test by the State of Utah:
Four Day Work Week
the state of Utah actually tried this and had state employees take Friday off and work longer hours the other four days of the week. According to Scientific American the results were impressive:

For those workplaces, there’s no longer a need to turn on the lights, elevators or computers on Fridays—nor do janitors need to clean vacant buildings. Electric bills have dropped even further during the summer, thanks to less air-conditioning: Friday’s midday hours have been replaced by cooler mornings and evenings on Monday through Thursday. As of May, the state had saved $1.8 million. …


What Makes a Crappy Bike? Here's a few thoughts ...

I've known many, many friends who drop into their local Wallie's World, or Kmart, or Target and pick up the cheapest bike they can wrap their wallets around.

And, let me tell you, they are NOT doing themselves any favors.

I know good bikes are expensive. And the best bikes are WAY TOO expensive. But, you have to get a nice bike to really be able to use it, put it through its paces, and get the most out of it.

The last paragraph gives the best advice of the whole article ... buy used (second hand) from someone who has worked in a bike shop, and have pimped and maintained their bike while they've owned it. I've owned my Gary Fisher over 10 years, and the freaking thing just keeps running. It's like buying quality over value. Not easy - but if you really want it to work, you gotta do it.

And here's a tip for anyone who has trouble riding ANY bike. Raise your seat.
No ... Seriously.

Raise your seat so that your legs have to almost fully extend for you to pedal. The 90-degree, right angle bike pedal IS NOT how you are supposed to ride your bike. This one change could revolutionize your riding experience.
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Worst) Bikes
Mens Bike looks to be a bargain
But the trouble begins… immediately.
The conclusion of the LBS? The bike is junk.

First, the women’s model was supplied with a men’s saddle. Second, it just doesn’t work properly. The brake calipers are bendy, flexy plastic, the twist-grip gears won’t actually hold in a single speed for more than a couple minutes (or until the next bump in the road) and hills were impossible: “but tackling them on my weighty (18kg), graceless machine felt like I was scaling Pen-y-Ghent on a pedal-powered tractor,” says Pidd. Even the back wheel came supplied already out-of-true.

Worse, this is a self assembly bike. Anyone who knows enough about building and fixing bikes would know enough to avoid this machine, so therefore the only people who might buy it are not qualified to build it.
It shows us that “low-priced” is not the same as “value”, and that skimping on a good bike is not only dangerous but it spoils you fun. Our advice? Buy second-hand

Veterinarian ... Could one be in Our Future?

It's amazing to me ... the ability Christy has with animals. She knows more about animal health than I could ever comprehend.

And it's been a HUGE thorn in our side that she was never able to go to veterinary school. We've talked about this tragedy many, many hours.

And lately, because of the economy, I've been thinking about how we can make it happen. AND, we're seriously, seriously trying to talk one of the girls into doing vet work when they get older - that is - if they still show an interest in it. If they do, I will do my utmost to make it a reality.

Anyhow, this was an interesting article to read. Maybe ... just maybe ... this could be in our future?


Veterinary students are taking advantage of a tuition incentive program to work in underserved areas.

"The shortage of food safety and public health veterinarians has become a national crisis and it's really put food safety in America in jeopardy,"
but it is our hope that veterinarians could earn as much as $25,000 a year for the first two years and then $35,000 for the third and fourth years if they agree to serve an underserved area like rural food supply veterinary medicine."
Many states including Ohio, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Washington, Wyoming and Kansas have created state school loan repayment incentive
the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, are currently developing an ambitious plan to offer their own veterinary school loan repayment program offering $20,000 to $30,000 a year over four years to young veterinarians willing to practice in rural areas.

The Skinny on the Govt's Cash for Junkers Program.

Christy and I were just talking tonight, about what kind of money you could expect to get from Uncle Sam when you turn in your old hunk of junk vehicle.

We couldn't understand how it might be possible to turn in a big, old gas hog ... for a NEW, big gas hog?

Maybe this will explain some of it:

Here's the quick read on the 'cash for clunkers' rules just published


You can read a PDF of the whole thing here, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration basically says:

The eligible clunker has to be driveable and can't be more than 25 years old. In the case of "very large" pickups and vans (8,500 to 10,000 pounds of gross vehicle weight), they must have been made since 2001. 
The program runs through Nov. 1.

Ideas to Help Boost My Productivity

I stumbled upon this article tonight, and read through a few of the ideas.

The ones that strike me the most ... are the ones about knowing what you want to accomplish, noting all the steps you need to cross to get there, and then being diligent about actually doing what you want to do.

I realized tonight, that one of the hardest parts about living a life of passion, is clearly understanding what you are passionate about. And then realizing HOW you can get to the lifestyle that will let you get there.

Personally, I waffle back and forth between so many things, it's no wonder I've never committed my future to anything. It's giving me plenty to think about though.
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Boost Your Productivity in 50 Ways

Single-task: If you are doing something which requires a high level of brain work, focus on doing it one at a time. Don’t try to multi-task and get nothing done in the process.
Time boxing: Set aside a fixed time slot to work on your tasks. You must work on that task and only that task during that time slot, no more, no less.
To-do list
Not run the risk of forgetting anything you need to do.
Master your skills. To get your work done well and fast, you need to first master your skills.
It’s said that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at what you do. Make sure you put in the due diligence in your work.
Brain dump. You may find some thoughts distracting you while you are working on something.
List down all the things you want to get done, order them in priority
a life handbook like a life manual where you store your purpose, long-term goals, short-term goals, strategies, plans, and many other information on how to live your best life.


Florida Everglades National Park - Wildlife Pictures

This was quite a while ago - but here are a few shots of some of the wildlife we encountered down at the Everglades National Park.

Here's my best tip about the Florida Everglades National Park ...

DON'T GO in the summer! Dang near 100 degrees outside. Pure sweat, and a nasty sticky feeling. AND ... Mosquitoes every where you turn.

In fact ... I suggest staying out of Florida entirely all summer long.

Unless, and only on this one condition, that you are going to a beach somewhere. That is the only reason any human should be in this state during the summer. To play in the glorious waters that completely surround this place.

That's my honest, but humble opinion.

Take a look at this turtle ... Not one of the prettiest animals we've seen here in Florida. But I guess I should really like this one, because it looks funny - just like me.


Stunning New After Work Drink Hits the Market

It's a good thing I stumbled onto this drink tonight.

Chris is about to get home, in a little over an hour. And I can almost guarantee she will be ranting and raving about the lunatics that run the place.

So ...

Luckily I found this new drink that seems like the perfect way to help her caaaaalm down, sloooooow down, and chiiiiiiiil out.

I know I could go for one of these, most days when I leave the office.
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Under the premise that caffeine-packed drinks tend to increase anxiety, Slow Cow contains theanine, chamomile, valerian, passiflora and other ingredients known for their calming effects. The beverage is meant to increase mental awareness while improving relaxation, without the post-hit dip that caffeine and other stimulants cause.

Lance Armstrong ... The Old Fart!

I have caught a tremendous amount of the Tour de France this year. WAY more than I've ever seen. And, it is so exciting to watch this sport, and see the talent these guys have.

My favorite part of all ... though ... was at the end of today's leg. On national television (the Versus channel), Armstrong called himself an 'Old Fart'. But, he couched it by saying he didn't do too bad coming up with a 3rd place finish.

I loved the comment!

And, I'm thrilled that even old farts like myself can still enjoy this GREAT sport.
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“I might have a few more notches next year,” Armstrong said by telephone late Saturday. “But right now I need a few more notches to beat him.” Then he added one French word — chapeau, meaning hat’s off to Contador. And wait until next year.

“While it’d be great to win at nearly 38 years old, it’s virtually unheard of in this game,” he said last week. “So you’ve got to understand and respect that, too.”

Some GREAT thoughts about Taking Photos!

Since Christy is such an avid photographer, and she has slightly created an interest in taking better pictures for me ... I thought these comments from some Photography Greats might inspire you.

10 Photography Quotes that You Should Know

4. “ Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment. –

5. “ Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow. – Imogen Cunningham


Never stop photographing. It is very likely that your best photograph has not yet been captured.

8. “ I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good. –

9. “ Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop. – Ansel Adams


Salvador Dali Museum in St. Pete Florida


We were able to stop into this cool museum while my Mom was in town. It was a bit spendy to get in, but turned out to be an excellent stop.

I don't know if you know this artist ... Salvador Dali ... but I'm sure you've seen some of his art, even if you don't recognize his name. He is probably most well known for all kinds of stretching and melting type of images. And I can't even find the one that I remember the most - with stretched out animal legs. He was actually VERY POPULAR even while he was still alive - so ... he wasn't a starving artist type.

Like these:
The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory

Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As a Table

Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Persistence of Memory
(This is one of his most popular pieces)

Museum of Modern Art, New York City

The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus
(this picture, in the museum, is OUTSTANDING - it's about 17 feet tall, and it's just overwhelmingly cool!)

Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida

All the images above are courtesy of

Unfortunately, they strictly prohibit use of cameras (of any sort) inside the museum, so I can't show you anything inside.

I will say this about the museum ... apparently there are about 16 master works by Dali. Which means he spent over 1 year of his life working on each one. This museum has 7 of them. I think they said no other museum has more than 4 - and some museums only have 1. So, this place is pretty well endowed.

Anyhow, I got this short video of the front of the museum - which gives a great sample of his art legacy. The bench looks like he would have created it. And it gives you a great view of the natural setting for the museum. It's a pretty nice place. And it's a short video.



Some More Tarpon Feeding at Robbies Marina

This is a little bit longer clip - which shows more about the tarpon feeding at Robbie's Marina.

This is a small, little, out-of-the-way place. But this was a definite highlight of our trip to the Keys. If you make it down, you should definitely check this place out. Just remember - Mile Marker 77 - because it's barely marked as you drive by on the highway down to Key West.



Some shots from the Florida Keys Swimming Pool

As a few of you know ... we actually made it to the Florida Keys a couple weeks ago. That was one of our long term goals of coming to Florida.

Anyhow ...

I wanted to get up a couple of shots from our trip. These are just from the pool we got to enjoy while we were down there.

The greatest thing is that my Mom picked up some sweet snorkeling gear for while she was here. Thank you ... by the way! And here, in the pool, you can see the girls trying it out. Kait is, pretty much, like a fish when she gets in the water.

We've even used the snorkel gear since then - over at Anna Maria Island over the 4th of July weekend. We even saw an eensie, teensy octopus while we were there.