Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Going to Word Press

Well my faithful followers, I am moving over to word press to continue blogging! I like the features that they have and it appears that one can do a lot more on Word Press than on Blogger! Please join me at Word Press for any future updates and thank you all!


TMJ - What it all about

For quiet sometime if you have been following me on Twitter or if you know me personally you know that I have been complaining about TMJ so I thought that I would give you all a little insight into what it is and why its so painful and an update on my condition. The acronym for TMJ actually refers to joint in your jaw called the Temporomandibular Joint and this joint can become inflamed leading to a disorder. It is this disorder that is what is going on with me and unfortunately it is generally a chronic inflammation much like Arthritis, so it will come and go.

The temporomandibular joint connects the mandible to the skull, and the disorder and resultant dysfunction can result in significant pain and impairment. Because the joint is so close to your ear, ear pain is associated with the swelling and many times it feels like its an ear infection or ear pain. Another classic sign of TMJ disorder (TMJD) is a constant clicking or popping and an occasional locking of the jaw, and even possible in more extreme untreated cases it will lead to lock jaw.

There are many reason why people develop TMJD and mine is mainly due to clenching my teeth while I sleep, but other reason include:
  • Trauma to the jaw
  • Grinding Teeth

  • Excessive gum chewing or nail biting

  • Size of foods eaten

  • Clenching

There are many courses of treatment that can be followed and because of the pain and the joint it will probably take a combination of your dentist and physician to develop a treatment plan that works for you.

A dentist will generally fit you for a bite guard that will be used during sleeping hours to prevent someone from clenching and grinding their teeth as this is a leading cause to TMJD. A physician will generally prescribe pain killers and NSAIDs to reduce inflammation of the joint. My physician is also trying a therapy that involves an anti-anxiety medication to allow my jaw to relax while I sleep, this medication is taken at bed time as it generally will cause severe drowsiness which is a bonus for me as I have been having a hard time sleeping, again another problem that you may recall if you follow me on Twitter or know me personally.

I can say that after a week of being on this medication my pain in my jaw has subsided significantly to almost unnoticeable, and most of the medication that I have been prescribed is to be used on a need basis regime, other than the anti-inflammatory. My physician highly suggest that I continue using this on a daily basis as a form of preventative measures and to lessen the frequency of painful flareups.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My New Toy and Win 7 Upgrade

Today is the first day that I ventured into the world of owning a netbook and so far I have found that I like it. I opted to stick with Win XP and purchased a system that has a 16 gig flash memory and 1 gig of ram which is well enough to run XP! I have customized XP to run similar to how I operate Vista. Which also brings me to another point, I also made the decision yesterday to order a copy of Win 7 which I will install on my main laptop and the other machines in my home with the exception of my netbook! It will be interesting to see how much more of an imporvement Win7 is over Vista! So far initially everyone that I have spoken to has only positive things to say, so could Microsoft really have gotten something right? I will keep you posted as I travel through my upgrade and how my systems handle the newer improvements. The biggest thing I would like to see is less CPU dedicated to operating an the OS.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Weekly Top Ten to Follow on Twitter 10/30/09

So last week was my first week of building a list and adding a mention in my blog about a group of tweeps that I have interacted with for the week! I am trying not to mention anyone more than once in a few blog post, but eventually there will be some repeats put in there from previous weeks. The list this week includes one bonus tweep that I have selected as someone that I think will have the potential of being a great tweep to follow! The individuals that I have selected this week are funny, interesting, and provide quality tweets that keep me interested and is the reason that I keep tweeting week after week! I look forward to tweeting with these people day in and day out and I know that you will too! So without any further delay here is my list for this week:
  1. @CdnGal_ps
  2. @deafrock
  3. @90_angel
  4. @Chattylisa69
  5. @anniemcs
  6. @anz_rocks19
  7. @JohnnyVoiture
  8. @CEEisME
  9. @selwynD611
  10. @sarahbellafina

And my bonus tweep that I believe that has the potential to being a great tweep to follow that I was introduced to today is: @NikkiG1st

You can not go wrong with these tweeps at all and if you don't have an account then it is time for you to get one and start following these tweeps! You can sign up by following this link: to sign up for an account.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My First Top 10 Tweeps List and Introduction

So every week I am now going to provide a list of my top ten tweeps that I interacted with for the week. I am going to use this blog as a method of keeping track so that I try not to repeat a tweep multiple times, because we all know there are a few people that we talk to all the time and would be on that list every week and one thing that I like about #FollowFriday is the chance to follow good quality people and I cherish all of my tweeps that I interact with daily, weekly and monthly and soon I will be able to say yearly as I am approaching my one year anniversary of being on twitter. I will also post a link to twitter from the previous week which will allow me to #FollowFriday 20 tweeps in one quick sweep. So without further delay here is my first list of top 10 tweeps from this past week.

Follow these people on twitter as they have brought great information, kept me entertained and enjoy life as much as I do!
  1. @niffirgelleinad -
  2. @Wattyz -
  3. @Ceggs -
  4. @Claire_Cordon -
  5. @nelsonmaud -
  6. @DJPlaZma -
  7. @davehilman -
  8. @molliemoon -
  9. @Dumplin75 -
  10. @InMyBeatlesLife -

You can not go wrong with these ten tweeps, I love them, and I love conversing with them on a daily basis and I know you will to! If you are not on twitter then its time to sign up and follow these 10 people by going to and setting up your account

It's been a Month

It's really been a month since I last blogged? I can't believe it, and I also can't believe that I have ignored blogging for so much! I've just been flooded with things to do and have spent more time relaxing and enjoying life but not really writing about it, which brings me to this point.

This is my favorite time of the year as well so I have been just taking in the smell of the season. There is just something about fall that I really like, the smell of the season change and the colors that the cooler weather brings just a warm feeling! I also enjoy visiting apple orchards and taking in the harvest and fresh cider that they produce. The kids enjoy it as well because it gives them a chance to go on a hayride and have the joy of picking out their own pumpkin that will later be butchered into a jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

Fall also brings on the holiday season and its not the hustle and bustle that I enjoy, its the fact that the holiday's does bring the family together and there is nothing that I like more then bringing the family together to sit down and enjoy a huge Thanksgiving Day dinner. Its the rare occasion that no matter what is going on, the family seems to set everything aside and come together and be what the meaning of a family really is and really act like a family.

So although I don't really enjoy the colder weather that the fall brings in with winter at its door step, the season itself is really enjoyable with the colors, smells and feeling that the Fall brings and eventually the holiday's, but yes with the fall brings in the snow that all in Michigan; well I shouldn't say all, but some including myself really only enjoy during the first snow fall and then would rather see the snow gone for the remanding of the winter. So with this thought I leave you and encourage you to visit a local apple orchard and enjoy some fresh cider and bake goods that they produce.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Being Copied by a Star

So today was just a normal day for me! I got up ate a little breakfast and got some coffee! As most normal days go, I sign into Twitter and give my morning welcomes and every things. I was in the midst of chatting with @ceggs on MSN messenger and going back and fourth between her and TweetDeck this morning when a RT from a tweep that I follow came across my feed. I was shocked in what I saw to say the least. The feed came from @jemmathesquib and here is the link of the tweet that she posted:

I then noticed that Patrick Swayze was trending in the trending topic section and clicking on that lead me to a plethora of tweets retweeting this tweet from @aplusk who happens to be Ashton Kutcher on twitter. The tweet from @aplusk is here in this link and was posted 8 hours ago on twitter! This tweet is amazingly similar to the tweet that I posted on twitter and facebook on September 14th and is linked here although Ashton's joke is changed a bit from mine, it is still the same joke that I posted! I honestly could not believe what I was seeing, I was being copied and a tweet of mine was being made popular! The first thing that crossed my mind was "how rude" and I started my twitter campaign but now I find it completely flattering and all of the love and RT's about being copied and being given credit from all of my followers and tweeps that I don't follow is amazing! I am truly shocked and flattered! What an amazing experience today!

The people from Twitter are amazing! I am truly grateful for everyone that I follow and that follows me! I am amazed everyday about how genuine people are and how Twitter, a social networking site has changed my thoughts and views on life! An amazing experience and one that I am grateful everyday to experience. I am thanking everyone from my heart, everyone is amazing that I have meet on Twitter, I never knew how many nice people exist!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

More Craziness at Work

First off I am sorry I have been neglecting my blog! I’ve been busy and well let’s just face it a little lazy! Blogging hasn’t been on the top of my priority list lately and well to be truthful I haven’t had a heck of a lot to want to blog about anyhow.

Work has been pretty slow lately, although I have had some things occur that just make me think my God people what are you thinking. If you follow me at all on twitter you know I have a regular in the store at night. I refer to him as Homeless dude, mostly because I honestly believe that he is homeless. Although I don’t mind him coming in, he pretty much harmless and there are not very many customers at night that shop our store. He normally is a bit buzzed when he comes up and he usually brings a bag of empty returnable bottles with him. On this particular evening he came in pretty blitzed and he called me to tell me that he had a problem in the bottle room. Not knowing it was homeless dude I headed over to service the customer. Once I arrived I could tell this was going to be interesting as I instantly recognized the guy and he had water bottles spread across my entire bottle return room.

His first complaint was that the bottles he brought would not give him a refund of 10 cents as he is waving his arm around the whole room pointing at all the bottles on the floor. Of course it took several times explaining those water bottles are not refundable and that they just get thrown away. The second complaint was that he kept sticking his arm in the machine and it told him it was rejected. He explained to me that he might not be worth much but he certainly wasn’t a reject and he felt that he should be compensated for what he is worth. This blew my mind for two reasons! First off pretty creative for a drunken homeless guy and secondly how do you handle something like that? After several minutes of the awkward silence between us and him starring at me waiting for an answer I concluded with explaining that I understand that you believe that your arm is worth something but unfortunately we do not offer refunds for used body parts. Amazingly enough he nodded his head as those he understood, turned around and left.

Great, I got left cleaning up his mess and it he still returned four other times wanting a refund for his arm by sticking it into the machine and pulling it back out once the machine alarmed. I love my job!

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Absence on my Blog

I know that I have not blogged since the beginning of the month, but I have entered into a period of time at work that draws a lot of attention from me and requires me to be a bit more focused. August is also the dog days of summer as the kids get ready to return back to school and my wife starts her classes up again for her Nursing degree. August also marked the last month for me before I started classes again, but since I graduated with my degree last spring I am not preparing for my return to the books this year! This is something that I am looking forward to as I will be able to spend more time blogging and interacting with tweeps on Twitter. I am also working on Networking and will be attending several Job Fairs this winter in hopes to start planning for my new future. A future away from my current employer who I have spent 8 years with. I will also begin preparing to write my first of a few Project Management Exams to obtain my associate credentials as a Project Manager and begin my journey into the field of Project Management.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Extract Brewing

So you have all the things that are needed to brew right? lets run down the checklist real quick before we start!

  • Purchased Brew Kit

  • Purchased 5 gallon stainless steel kettle

  • Purchased stirring paddle or spoon

  • Purchased Extract Beer Kit

Providing you have these four things you are actually ready to brew your first batch of beer.

I picked up my extract kit from my local homebrew supplier located in Waterford, MI called Hopmans Beer and Wine Supplies. Rick and Johnny run an awesome operation and provide an excellent service to homebrewers alike. The nice part about this shop is that they put their own kits together which helps guarantee the freshness of the products that are being sold to you. The contents of the kit always includes the extract ingredients and in some cases steeping grains, hops, yeast packet - either dry or in liquid form, and instructions for brewing. It is important to follow these directions as they provide the times of extract additions, hops additions and boiling times which are all crucial to the quality of the beer that you are producing.

The brew kettle that I have is able to handle up to 13 gallons of liquids, although for extract brewing this is a bit of an over kill and unnecessary I have this kettle as a part of my all grain brewing system, which is an advanced brewing process that will later be explained in this blog. I also have a propane burner that the kettle will be heated with, however you can brew an extract kit on a household stove.

So we have everything right? Very good its time to get started, the first thing we will do is open up our kit and take out the instructions that are included in your extract kit. You will also notice, depending on the kit, the kit will contain a can of liquid malt extract (LME) and maybe a bag of dry malt extract (DME), a more advanced extract kit may also contain a bag of grains with a mesh bag or what we call in the brewing realm a grain sock. Also its important to note that a brew kit may also contain both DME and LME in addition to grains. As you can immediately see the options are endless to choose from when selecting a kit. Kits that contain grains are referred to as partial mash kits but that is another blog posting altogether. For now we are only going to deal with DME and LME kits that do not contain grains.

Looking at the instructions that are given in your kit, it is imperative that we follow these to produce the quality of beer that the kit boast. The first thing that we will notice is the amount of water that is needed to be collected which will range between 5 and 6 gallons. Once water is gathered it is time to start heating, which can be done on a household stove or propane stove. I will be using a propane stove myself. We will be bringing our liquid up to a boil prior to adding any of the extracts. If your kit contains a can or jug of LME, this is a good opportunity to gather a small pot and start warming up the LME to make pouring into the boiling brew pot much easier as LME is simply a very thick syrup. Heating a syrup will make it flow out of the container much easier. It is best to do this on a household stove at a low setting, we do not want to boil the container.

Once the brew kettle is up to a boil we need to remove the heat source by turning off the propane or moving the kettle from one burner to another and add our LME and/or DME to the boiling pot, it is important to stir the mixture at the same time to avoid scorching on the bottle of the brew kettle, remember these are fermentable sugars and sugar and heat will burn, so it is important to stir the mixture together will adding your malt extracts. You will also notice that while adding the extracts the boiling kettle will lower in temperature and stop boiling. Once all of the extracts have been added and stirred in, it is time to turn the heat source back on and bring back up to a boil.

Once the brew kettle is back up to a rolling boil, we will now refer to the instruction again to locate the hop addition schedule. Hops are used to bitter your beer and bring balance to the sugars that you have added. The hop schedule can range from several options depending on the style of brew to adding hops at the start of the boil, middle of the boil or end of the boil or a combination of any of the times. Some beers may even use all three additions and it is also possible with higher bitter beers such as India Pale Ale or IPA's that the addition schedule may even be more intensive.

It is important to pay attention to the brew pot at the times of adding the hops, this additions can cause a rapid boil which may lead to a boil over which can be the most aggravating thing to happen as the mess is horrible to clean up. The key to avoiding this is to keep stirring and even turning the heat down some to slow the boil during the chemical reaction of the hops and the your liquid which is now referred to as wort. Boiling the wort normally takes approximately 60 minutes and once completed it is important to cool the wort down to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

To cool your wort or un-fermented beer there are several options available to do this. The game plan is to cool it rapidly, ideally 5 degrees every 10 minutes. Two simple ways to do this is: number one a ice bath done in a bath tub. To do an ice bath place your brew kettle into a tub, fill with cold water and add ice and continue adding ice as the ice melts. It may be necessary to drain some of the water out of the tub during this process. Another simple way is to add ice directly to the brew kettle. To do this freeze between three and four Ziploc bags of ice, remove the ice from the bags and place directly into the boil kettle, this can only be done if you did not do a full batch boil, meaning instead of 5 to 6 gallons of water collected at the beginning, you collected between 8 and 10 gallons of water. My preferred method is using a device called a wort chiller, which is a coil wound copper or stainless steel tube that you connect to a cold water supply and run a drain tube from the other end. If you use a wort chiller, place the wort chiller into your brew pot in the final 10 minutes of your boiling process to sanitize the chiller.

While your wort is chilling, this is a good opportunity to sanitize your fermentation bucket that came with your brew kit. There are a number of sanitizers that can be used, I prefer to use what is called a one step sanitizer that does not require rinsing once sanitized. It is important that anything that touches your wort after the boil process is sanitized properly, this is probably the most important part of the brew process that must be followed. Anything not properly sanitized may introduce bacteria that can produce spoiled beer, or better known as skunky beer. So in short be sure that you sanitize the siphon hose, fermentation bucket and lid, along with the air lock and if your stir spoon if you end up using that again after the brewing process.

Once the wort is chilled, you can begin the transfer process or better known to racking to the fermentation bucket and then add the yeast that the kit contained. This yeast may be a dry packet or a liquid smack pack that needed to be smacked prior to brewing you beer. If the kit contained a smack pack, you may smack this pack up to 12 hours prior to brewing but it is not necessary. I would suggest however to certainly smack this pack just prior to brewing though. Once the yeast is added, also called pitching the yeast, place the lid on the fermentation bucket and firmly press down around the side ensuring that the lid is tightly sealed on the bucket. Take the air lock that came with the brew kit and fill it with water up to the water line indicator and place in the hole on the top of the fermentation bucket lid. This lid will have a rubber grommet that helps form a air tight seal around the airlock and lid. Place the bucket in a cool setting such a basement, but not directly on the basement floor and allow the beer to ferment between 7 and 14 days.

At the end of the fermentation process the air lock will show no sign of bubbles occurring and when you pull the lid off the bucket there should be no head foam resting on the beer itself. Its also a good idea to take a final gravity reading with a hydrometer, the reading should be at 1.010 or slightly below. This reading is a very good way of indicating that fermentation is complete, this reading is also important in determining the alcohol content if you do a beginning reading prior to racking your beer into the fermentation bucket. Once the fermentation is completed you may either opt to go directly to the bottling stage or choose to rack your beer into a carboy for a process known as secondary fermentation which will allow your beer to age to achieve better flavors and clarify. I always opt to rack the beer into secondary fermentation and allow the beer to rest for a period of no less than 4 weeks and sometimes longer.

After secondary fermentation is completed it is time for bottling or kegging of the beer, again another blog post will be created for bottling you beer or if you choose the simpler process of kegging.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Strange Happenings At Work

So last night I thought was going to be like most nights, a little stressful in trying to get what has to happen done and with very few customers coming in and out of the store! To my astonishment it was everything but that, however the stress was still there!

It wasn't even two minutes into my shift did I receive a call about a person dressed up in a Keebler Elf Cookie costume. As funny as this sounds, and it really was funny, it caused quite the commotion between the customers and staff that was in the store! The group came in, in what most likely was a dare and took pictures, but things turned bad as they started running around and harassing customers. At one point a number of reports had come in that the elf smacked about 7 ladies rear end. Finally after several minutes of alluding store management we finally caught up with the group and kicked them out of the store.

At the same time store security apprehended a group of children stealing condoms and candy bars! Very odd combination if you ask me and even the parents of each kid wanted to know what the heck the kids were thinking. The father of one of the kids had probably the funniest things to say to the kids while he was yelling at them, unfortunately this has been a G-rated blog and, well, I do not have any intentions on changing that, but use your mind and come up with some pretty drastic things to say to 12 and 13 year old boys, oh and one 11 year old girl.

Then just as we thought the excitement was over with we were stunned by a report that there was a customer out in our parking lot peeing in cars that have their windows down! I couldn't believe it when I first initially heard about it, so I didn't respond at first, but after my second phone call about it I had to investigate. Sure enough as we approached the vehicles that were involved you could clearly see liquid splatters on the windows and visible see seats inside the vehicle were drenched. As the investigation continues it turns out it was a drunken customer who obviously could not hold his bladder any longer after joy riding in our parking lot and rather coming inside. He opted to relieve himself in random vehicles that had their windows down. As a customer learned that his vehicle was one of them, I sympathetically stated that I am sure glad that I didn't have any of my windows down! From the facial reactions, I don't think the customer found what I stated very amusing. Eventually the police arrived and took over the complaints and went on the search for the random pisser.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just Ranting

So recently I had the lovely experience of going up to the car dealership and enjoy the pleasure of car shopping! Gosh I really love car shopping, its just an experience that I don't think I could really live without! Well the reason that I had to go up to the dealership in the first place is because our millage was up on the lease. This is not to be confused with the lease being up by the way... Yeah, that's right, we drove the car too much and the last time this happened it ended up costing me a ton of extra money; so to avoid that, I thought I would be smart about the millage this time and just turn the vehicle back into GM early.

Well I spent most of my afternoon looking at vehicles and haggling with the salesman over different vehicles until finally we both agreed on a car with the options and pricing that I wanted. Turns out it was the same style of car that we had leased. No big deal really, its a nice car and for a family it is roomy. The vehicle that we decided on is a Chevy Impala. The car is nice, we even decided to take it up to our cottage the next day to get the car broke in.

We've had the car about a week now, no complaints and it even seems like it drives better than the last one. I am just starting to think, gosh what a great deal, got out of the lease, and we are buying what I hope is the last car for a long time. Little did I know, a little envelope was waiting for me in the post. Yesterday when I went and checked the mail, there was letter from GMAC, no big deal, I thought that it was probably a thank you letter from GMAC for leasing a vehicle from them. Well I wasn't too far off, they did thank me, but then there were charges for vehicle damage. They are charging me over $1,000 for road damage the vehicle sustained. Like I said, I thought I was doing the smart thing for turning in the car early, as they only charged me for the millage overage and no damage the last time. That bill only came to about $900 and the funny part is the car had been rear ended and there were a ton of scratches. Well I guess they figured that they were going to charge you one way or another.

It is very frustrating and the worst part is the letter stated that this may not be the final charge as they still have to sell the vehicle and because of economic conditions we may be responsible for the remaining balance of the vehicle if the vehicle sells for less than the value of the vehicle is worth. Its amazing that they include in a letter, about economic conditions as though they are the only ones feeling the pinch of the current economic condition. They should look at my 401k! I have lost thousands dollars in the past year and some of it was wrapped up in GM stock that took a beating. So who is responsible for the money that I've lost? I think I should be able to send a letter to all of my investments that state: "due to the current economic condition, you may be responsible for the remaining balance of my retirement in the event that I come up short of plan at retirement age!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Crazy Man @ Work

So I was at work last night, as I usually am and I stepped outside for a quick breath of fresh air when I looked off to the side of the building and noticed that a 12 speed bike was parked outside. I immediately knew who this belonged to and quickly ran back inside to confirm my thoughts! I approached my cashier and asked her if our friend who was here last night was here again tonight and she confirmed it! She told me he was out and about somewhere in the store! Gosh I was excited, finally something to do and watch! I find it fascinating to watch individuals like these!

I quickly headed out through the store to start doing my checks but I was really on the hunt for our new crazy that is out and about the store this evening. I finally ran across him, he was located in the DVD section of our store and he was in his electric wheel chair driving it back and fourth in one spot. I obviously stuck around him for a bit to see what kinda strange things he might be up to. Fortunately for me there was a computer near by so I was able to pretend that I was actually looking something up, not making it too obvious that I was watching what he was up to.

While I was in the process of signing into the PC when all of a sudden I heard what I thought might be a bird so I looked up and there was the crazy man sitting in his electric wheel chair flapping his arms like a bird and then bringing his hands close to his mouth and then tweeting again! I only can assume that he was pretending he was a bird eating something, it only makes sense right? So the man was drawing a crowd, people pointing and laughing, so being the nice guy that I am, I offered the other customers assistance, only to draw their attention away from the poor git, flapping his arms and pretending he is a bird.

When I came back after helping the other customers he had ended his flight of the birds routine and had commenced to talking to himself, but I can't say he was actually talking to himself, because I honestly believe he thought someone was there with him as he continuously looked behind him and mumbled something that I could not comprehend. Eventually my job called me away, which was fine, as he only repeated himself over and over. All in all he spent about 4 hours in my store doing about the same thing in the same spot most of the time that he was there.

It will be interesting to see what he will be up to this evening when I arrive to work! I still think Crazy Lady who has been banned is still the best we have had in the store, she atleast was vocal and wanted attention from other people. This guy is content in not bothering anyone at all!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A New Crazy at Work

So as many of you know that follow me on twitter I work the night shift for a 24 hour retail store/supermarket and well needless to say we get a number of weirdos that visit my location. We had this lady that came in on a regular basis that ended up getting a no trespassing order from the local police, so I could no longer tweet about her adventures in my store.

Well more recently we started getting visits from an older gentleman who would sit in our lobby and conversed with the wall. Apparently the conversations must be pretty interesting as I have found him laughing on many occasions. It appears as this guy may become a regular and though last night was only the second time that I have seen him, I have been told that he has been in every night that I have been off of work. I am looking forward to tweeting about him and his adventures, unfortunately though he left fairly early last night so my fun had ended.

Now for those of you who think I am being cruel, I am not making fun of him! I am merely observing the happenings and reporting what is going on, we do not bother him and he so far hasn't bothered anyone in the store.

Tahquamenon Falls

Well I finally took the family up to Tahquamenon Falls, we made what is supposed to be a 2 and half hour trip which actually turned into a 5 hour trek and let me tell you five hours in a car, with two very young children equals not much fun at all! However even with the torture of the kids driving us nuts on the way up we still had a lot of fun! One of the best things about going to Tahquamenon Falls is the fact that you have to drive over the mighty Mackinaw Bridge, which to me will never ever get old to see!

Once you make it over the bridge and into the U.P. there are a couple of Family friendly spots all within minutes away from the bridge that are worth mentioning. The first one, which can be seen as soon as you cross the bridge is Castle Rock, it only cost 25 cents to climb to the top and the gift shop is pretty cool too. The next stop is the world famous Mystery Spot, yes much like the one located in California, so east coast people, you don't have to travel all the way to California to visit the Mystery Spot, you can come right up to Michigan and view it! With that out of the way, it takes about another hour from the bridge to make it to Tahquamenon Falls.

Once you arrive you have to pay a state park fee, which if you are a resident its only six dollars and non-residents eight dollars, but this fee will get you into any state park all day long and is also your pass for both the upper and lower falls. I would highly recommend once you arrive into the Tahquamenon Falls area, you visit the lower falls first. Although this is not as magnificent as the great Upper Falls it is still worth seeing.

Here is a little interesting fact about the Tahquamenon Falls: The Tahquamenon Falls is the third largest falls East of the Mississippi River, after the Niagara Falls and Cohoes Falls, which are both incidentally located in New York. Also the Tahquamenon Falls are also known as the Cooper Falls due to the color of the water. This copper tint is from the tannins that are leached from the cedar swamps which the river drains.

Once you are through visiting the lower falls, make your way back up the Upper Falls and one of the first things you are greeted with is a wonderful Restaurant and Brewery located just adjacent to the parking lot of the Upper Falls. This is the first spot and last spot that I visit before and after seeing the falls. The brewery is designed after an old rustic cabin set in the woods and they not only make great beer, but also serve some very delicious food. I would suggest having the Buffalo Burger with bacon and cheese and do not under any circumstance substitute the french fries for anything, their fries are out of this world!

Once you have filled up at the brewery with food and beer, its time to go and get some exercise and visit the falls. There is a paved trail that you follow and breaks off into two different directions. The shortest walk is to the gorge of the waterfall, which also has the least amount of steps to climb back up! Only a mere 97 steps, but the site you see amazing! Once you are through visiting the gorge you can turn around, climb the 97 steps back to the top and then head down to the base of the waterfall, where the view is much more spectacular.

The base of the falls will lead you through a winding set of stairs that takes you all the way down to the bottom of the falls, however you will have to visit the falls yourself to find out how many steps it will take you to get back up to the top. I do not want to ruin the surprise of the exciting climb, but the view that you get is amazing and well worth the walk.

There are options for you to consider when visiting the falls for accommodations, but for a michigander it is possible to make a daycation out of it and travel back home which is what we did. Whether you stay near the falls or drive back home you will get to cross the bridge again and I suggest making a stop at Mackinaw where you can purchase their world famous salt water taffy and incredible fudge. You also get the ability to see some better views of the bridge that are breath taking. So make your plans, book your accommodations and head to Michigan for your next family vacation and visit the Upper Peninsula and see all of what Michigan has to offer!

Upper Michigan (Up North)

Up North Michigan is synonymous with a mystical place for many Michigander and I cannot think of any other place in this country where someone can say "going up north for the weekend," and people know that you're not leaving the state. The meaning "up north" has a very distinct and very different meaning for anyone living in this great state of Michigan and it certainly is that way for my family. The meaning of Up North for me is a place called Tawas, MI where as a child I spent many summers traveling there to our family cottage with my parents and grandparents.

I remember walking the white sands of Tawas state park beach and the feel of the rushing waves come crashing up on the beach and the frigid waters rushing over my feet as I would run to try and escape the torture of the icy waters of Lake Huron. On a hot midsummer day, the icy waters of Lake Huron brought a cool refreshing escape from the heat of the sun, even if you could not stay in the water very long.

Tawas also brings another image of childhood fun, I recall after spending the day out on the beach we would go into downtown, where there are a number of shops that line up and down Main Street. I remember visiting the ice cream shop that overlooked Lake Huron and enjoying the cold treat. We would then go down to the mini golf and enjoy a game with the family during the dusk of night. I remember the mosquitoes that came out and would feast on our flesh, and even from the nuisance of this we still had lots of fun.

As an adult now with children it’s these same memories that I am trying to give to my children. We still have the same cottage and now my parents are the grandparents and we are the parents. As I watch my child play on the same beach that I played on, and play at the same mini golf place, and eat ice cream at the same shop that overlooks Lake Huron. I am able to give the same meaning of Up North to my kids.

So where is your Up North, you may not live in the same state as me, but you can still create a place like this to share with your family, to create lasting memories of days of fun and summers spent relaxing. You don't have to live in Michigan to have a mystic place to share, so go out and start creating these lasting memories and pass them along to your family!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Economy, Media, and Government

We all know the economy is bad right? Unless you have been living under a rock, somehow, someway and maybe even someone you know has been affected by this slumping economy! Believe me I know, I live in the state that seems to be taking the worst beating over this economy: Michigan.

However do we have to be reminded everyday about how bad the economy is? Really is the economy that bad? Well it depends really on how you are being affected by it. Sure unemployment is the leading indicator and if you are unemployed, certainly you are one that is feeling the ever tightening grips of this sluggish economy!

I am one of the fortunate ones that have a job, and believe me I am thankful everyday that I have the job that I do. The job that I have also gives me a different perspective on the economy as well. Being in retail and employed by a retailer that seems to be bucking the trend and actually turning a profit gives me this unique opportunity and perspective on the economy.

The first point I would like to make is that the media needs to calm down on feeding the doom and gloom of the economy. I have stopped listening to the news and have noticed that I am less concerned about how bad the economy is. As I have mentioned I work in retail and I still see money being spent on a daily basis on wants over needs!

How bad is the economy? If the economy was really that bad would the release of Harry Potter at midnight July 14th really be able to gross 22.1 million dollars in one night, setting a record for a single night release.

The second point I would like to make is that I find it absolutely amazing that banks that have taken TARP money are currently posting profits! How is this? Banks have frozen line of credit, shut off lines of equity to home owner and have for the most part stopped lending money! Isn't lending how a bank makes a profit? So if banks have slowed down their lending practices, then how are they able to turn a profit and so quickly after TARP? I have a feeling that banks are taking that TARP money and turning around and investing it into safe securities and it’s the interest or ROI that they are posting as profits! If banks turned the flow of money back on to the consumers, allowing consumers to access lines of credit, equity and mortgages the economy would start moving in the right direction without the need for government intervention.

This brings me to my final point; all we have learned from having a government interfere in a free trade system is that it only compounds the problems. Money given to banks has not ended up into the consumer’s hands like it was intended to happen and companies being saved from bankruptcy only turn around and still files bankruptcy! I say it’s time to allow the economy to run as it is intended and get the government out of it! Let the weak companies fail and the strong companies prevail. The only thing that I have seen come out of government interference with the economy is a larger debt that seems to be dragging our economy further down, rather than speeding up the process for recovery.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Movies (no spoiler)

Took the family to go see Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, the long awaited release that all Harry Potter fans have been waiting for and to say the least I was just a little disappointed about the movie! Don't worry I won't spoil it for you, but I will say that if you can wait for it to come out on video, then I would suggest doing so! Save your money and take your family to dinner instead! If you've read the book, then you are really going to be in for a major disappointment as the book this time was much better than the movie, and even though this is the case with all of the movies, it is especially true in this case. I say this because some major action was left out of the movie that I believe should have been added to give the movie the same spunk as the previous Harry Potter movies.

If you go and see the movie and haven't read the book, I would suggest going back and reading the book, you will be surprised by the amount of detail that was excluded in this movie! I know you are thinking that all books are better than the movie, but at least in previous Harry Potter movies, the major points were included, and though that is the case in this movie, the movie was still rather dry for the lack of action that should have been included. Hopefully for the two-part movie for book 7 will rekindle my love for the Harry Potter movies.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Well it is official I am a twitterholic! How did this happen? Like most people we have been hearing a lot about twitter, tweeps, tweople, tweets and whatever other term that is out there, so I decided to check it out and see why people are talking about twitter so much!

I signed up with twitter in March of 2009, a late comer by many standards and at first I wasn't sure about it, so I started to post things like: "cleaning the couch off!" not really sure how affective my tweets were really being, and sure thousands of people will post this way, which is fine! However I wanted something more so quickly I jumped on the mass media band wagon and started following news feeds! I quickly found a way to voice my opinion about politics, the economy and other issues! It wasn't long that I started to build up a following!

Soon twitter became more than just a stage for me; it became a place where I have the opportunity to meet thousands of people that, under normal channels I would never have the opportunity to meet! Like many other twitter users I am drawn to the simplicity of the site, a place to make a 140 character posting about anything!

This is how I use Twitter now, it is a place to post about me, and my thoughts, some of the funny stuff I deal with and the things that I find funny that either happen to me, or I see happening. I also share the bad with the good and the funny part, people listen, which amazes me! It is this that has fueled my addiction and has also given me the driving force to blog!

So with that, I leave you with this! Twitter is not for everyone, but it does have its usefulness, and to me it is a place where I can quickly get caught up with the news, share my thoughts and opinions and listen to others, and even debate topics from time to time, but above all else it is a place that I have meet some terrific people and I would like to thank all my followers now!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tech Notes from Josh

So I purchased a Samsung Epic I907 Window's Smartphone offered by AT&T about 2 months ago! I have been steadily using it for quite some time and have found that I do like the phone! However there are some negatives about this product that I think Samsung should address.

  • First off the glossy finish on the phone makes it very susceptible to numerous surface scratches making the fairly new phone look years old after just a couple months of use.

  • Secondly the QWERTY keyboard is significantly smaller than most of its competitors and not to mention the keys seem rather stiff, even after 2 months of use leading to a number of misspelled words while texting, twittering, blogging or anything else.

There are some options however that has made me look past these flaws and really enjoy the phone:

  • I really enjoy the integrated mouse that Samsung has developed, it makes using this phone that much more enjoyable and I think its a feature they should start to integrate within other smartphone models that Samsung offers.

  • The larger screen also makes reading through material easier

  • The battery life seems to hold well enough for a strong 8 hours worth of constant use however falls short of the 12 hours that Samsung boasts.

  • The phone also has a touch screen with a stylus, however with the mouse it almost seems redundant to even include this feature as part of the phone as I have only used the stylus a handful of times.

Overall I would give the phone a favorable review, an 8 of 10, nice job Samsung!

Can Homebrewing save me money?

A question was posed to me today that has prompted me to want to write about! I was asked if homebrewing was really an economical option to reducing cost! My answer is absolutely! Folks you do not have to have the most elaborate set up to produce good quality beer! A basic easy homebrewing start up kit with at least a 5 gallon brewing pot can easily set you up to producing good quality beer for pennies on the dollar!

The initial set up of equipment will start paying for itself after about 5 batches of beer has been produced and for every batch of beer you produce you will have just over 48 bottles of beer which equates to two full cases each and every time you brew beer. After which each time you brew beer the only cost to you will be the cost of the actual beer kit which can range from as little as $16.00 to as much as $45.00 depending on the style of beer.

Now I ask you, where can you buy 2 cases of beer for $16.00? Not even the cheapest beer you could find on the market will be that cheap! Not to mention the beer you produce will be of a higher quality and much fresher than any beer you can buy off the shelf!

So in my favorite words "Happy Brewing!"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Thinking about Homebrewing

Do you enjoy beer? Yet the better question is do you enjoy craft beers and micro brewed beers? If the answer to that is yes, and you are like me, than you have developed a palate for fine brews! I too enjoy craft brews and have toured a number of micro breweries to get a sense of how beers are crafted and the art of bringing a beer alive. This passion has translated me to bring the art of this craft to my own home and hand craft my own beer.

The art of brewing a beer can be complicated and overwhelming, however there are less elaborate systems to allow the average Joe to step into the art of home brewing without knowing all there is to know about home brewing. Even I, who has been brewing for a few years will admit that there is still a lot that I do not know and I learn something new each and every time I brew a beer.

The first step in crafting your own brew is committing the time that is needed and then taking that leap from just drinking beer to crafting beer. The second step is finding a resource, and yes I am a resource, but only one avenue. I highly suggest that you locate a local home brew retailer. These are normally small shops who devote there attention to catering to the amateur and novice home brewer, not to mention home brewers themselves. These shops provide a valuable resource and are more than happy to answer any question that you may have and even help you solve problems that you may encounter while brewing your beer.

If you are reading this blog, most cases it means that you are thinking about home brewing and just haven't made that first leap! I am going to tell you that you should just do it and my suggestion is to start easy with a basic extract home brewing system. A valuable online resource that I have used to source some of my equipment has been who also sells basic home brew kits to get anyone started in the art of crafting your home brew. This link provides an overview of some home brewing kits, my suggestion is to purchase the basic home brewing set. This is the first set that I purchased and used in crafting some of my favorite home brews.

Although this set provides you with the basics that is needed, it does not supply you with everything. You will still need to purchase a stainless steel pot that can handle approximately 5 gallons of water. (DO NOT USE ALUMINUM, this can cause off flavors) and you will need approximately 52 empty amber beer bottles. Once you collect these three items the only other item you will need is an actual extract kit. Once again you can select a kit though northernbrewer by following this link: I suggest selecting an Ale kit as these are the simplest kits to produce good quality home brew. I will also suggest brewing a Kolsch Extract beer as this is a fairly simple kit and not to mention one of my favorite beers that I like to enjoy on a nice warm summer day, especially after mowing the lawn.

The total approximate cost to setting up a basic home brewing kit is: $169.00 through

You may be able to source some equipment and supplies cheaper through a local home brew supplier as well, its always a good idea to shop around.

My next blog will be brewing your first homebrew: Extract brewing