Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Posts Of 2012

I'm a total sucker for all those end of year reviews and lists. The Furlo Bros Tech Podcast this week had to split into 2 parts because Matthew and I got totally engrossed in it. I thought I'd keep the fun going with one last post this year doing a round-up of my most popular posts. I'll start with the most popular, and then finish with the "least popular" of the popular group.

Apple's iPad Mini will compete on price NEXT year
This is easily my most popular post of all time. The trick, it appears, is to get mentioned in another popular tech blog. This also goosed a bunch of previous posts and a couple follow-up posts. In the post, I explain Apple's pricing strategy.

Harbor Freight Tools Heavy Duty Foldable Utility Trailer
I attribute the popularity of this post to good SEO (the title is nothing but keywords), and a relative lack of good posts on the trailer in general. I knew it was a "big deal" when a friend from church called me because he was looking for a trailer and my post was the first search result. That's got to be worth at least 10 Internet points.

Are You Sure You Have A Strategy?
At the beginning of the year I got on a business marketing/strategy kick. I shared some general concepts I learned in school, and that I still use today to evaluate business ideas (for myself, and the podcast).

PC vs Tablet Shipments: Fun With Data
My brother and I got into a debate during one of our podcasts about whether the iPad is a "PC" or a "Tablet". I decided to dive into the data to see if purchases were replacements, or additions to their computing life. I enjoy using this blog to form my thoughts for the podcast.

Made To Stick [Book Review]
The best business book I read this year. The book talks about making ideas stick. It really is excellent. In the post I summarize what I learned.

Mortgage Payments Once A Month Or Every Other Week?
Because I'm a math geek, I like to create mini-spreadsheets to answer analytical questions. In this post I was trying to figure out if we should change up the frequency of our mortgage payments.

How To Do a SWOT Analysis
A title like that is guaranteed to be popular. What marketing person doesn't want to know how a SWOT analysis works? Of course, it could also be my Back To The Future hover board reference.

First World iPad Problems [Twitter+Flicker Mash-up]
I only did one of these, but given its popularity I should do more. The problem I had was coming up with appropriate photos.

Why I Quit Netflix
There are days when I miss Netflix. But then I think about all the time I got back to write blog posts and do other fun activities.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

iCopter Christmas Present

Today I wanted to share a video of one of the Christmas presents I received. I've been doing some experimenting with video editing for another project and have been looking for an excuse to make a personal video. My Aunt Ruth gave me an iCopter for Christmas which had the potential for a cool video. So I made one thanking her for the present.

This is one of those "explaining" types of videos. The goal is for you to understand how the helicopter flies, not just a highlight reel of cool tricks.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animal

Jessi & I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

We've been enjoying some fun holiday movies this year in an attempt to create some sort of Christmas Movie Tradition. It's been awesome!

Here's what we have on the list:

  • Home Alone (1 & 2)
    • "I took a shower washing every body part with actual soap; including all my major crevices; including inbetween my toes and in my belly button, which I never did before but sort of enjoyed. I washed my hair with adult formula shampoo and used cream rinse for that just-washed shine. I can't seem to find my toothbrush, so I'll pick one up when I go out today. Other than that, I'm in good shape."
  • Elf
    • "Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color?"
  • It's A Wonderful Life
    • "Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1994 version)
    • "We invite you to ask yourself this one simple question: Do you believe in Santa Claus?"
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
    • "Come in, and know me better, man! Did I already say that?"

I originally wanted to include Christmas Vacation, because there are some hilarious lines: "Oh, Eddie... If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now."  But it just didn't make the list.

We hope your travels are safe and you get to spend some quality time with your family. See you next year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Am Addicted To Endorphins

According to Wikipedia (significantly paraphrased):

Endorphins are produced during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm, and they produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being. It consists of two parts: endo- and -orphin; these are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean "a morphine-like substance originating from within the body." The term "endorphin rush" has been adopted in popular speech to refer to feelings of exhilaration brought on by pain, danger, or other forms of stress, supposedly due to the influence of endorphins.
A publicized effect of endorphin production is the so-called "runner's high", which is said to occur when strenuous exercise takes a person over a threshold that activates endorphin production. Endorphins are released during long, continuous workouts, when the level of intensity is between moderate and high, and breathing is difficult. Runner's high has also been known to create feelings of euphoria and happiness.

When I hurt myself, I stopped working out. I literally sat on a couch and watched movies. It wasn't until last weekend that my hand actually felt good enough that I thought I could go on a short run.

And I needed to!

You see, I'm addicted to endorphins. I get exactly what Wikipedia describes when I work out: happiness (some call it optimistic). But here's the deal, I tend to workout a lot, so I tend to always have a steady stream of endorphins. Like coffee drinkers, it means that I only really feel the effect when I STOP working out.

Which is exactly what happened.

My observation has been that the effect takes a week or so to wear off. Then slowly, my attitude and mood becomes more and more gloomy, to the point that I start arguing over small things (it tends to sneak up on me). As a kid, I remember times when I would get angry with my parents, and getting into a massive argument about something stupid. Suddenly, my parents would realize what was going on, and require me to go on a run. By the time I got back, life would be fine again. It's almost like magic.

This last week I experienced the same thing. My mood really took a dive and I began questioning all sorts of decisions and plans we have - mostly thinking they were horrible. Not surprisingly, Jessi wasn't expecting that and we might have exchanged some words over it. Like I said, it sneaks up on me - I normally don't realize it until it's too late.

Then I watched the Brian Williams interview of Tim Cook. In the interview, Cook said that he hits the gym every day at 5am to workout. For him it's a way to stay in shape and relieve stress. Here's a guy who's running the most valuable company in the world, and somehow he's figured out how to make time to exercise. If he can do it, so can I! And that was when it hit me that it's been a while since I worked out.

3 miles later, life is good again. I'm excited for our plans again, though I think I revealed some real risks
we'll need to handle, but now I think we can actually handle them! I also feel good about getting up early and getting a fast start to the day (literally).

So, I'm addicted to endorphins, and it's great!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lessons From Getting Injured

Since my power tool accident, I've had some time to think about the lessons I've learned. I'd like to share them.

Always wear gloves when working
This saved me from a VERY serious accident.

The cost of short-cuts
I took a short cut with my tool to save time and money. I knew I was taking a risk and wasn't using the machine the way it was designed, but I wanted to finish fast. I made speed a priority instead of safety. What I should have done was buy a belt sander and replace my broken orbital sander. In the end, what seemed like a short cut, ended up costing me much more. Time-wise: this sets us back WEEKS instead of the hour to go buy a new tool. This will also cost us HUNDREDS financially since we won't be able to move out when we want to (see the next point).

I know this lesson (don't take short cuts), and have applied it effectively many times. But it got the better of me in this moment because I let my priorities get out of balance. I think the same principle applies to other habits: speeding in your car, eating fast food, and drinking caffeine. Sure, we can get away with these short-cuts for a while, but at what inevitable cost? Besides, my experience is that I really don't "save" very much when I do take the short-cut.

I also want to re-evaluate other short-cuts in my life. I found myself asking the following questions: Am I'm skimping too much on my relationships? My financial generosity? My time reading the Bible and praying? Reading books? This injury has really brought my priorities and choices back into focus. I don't have answers for these, but it served as a great reminder to not take short-cuts, no matter how innocuous it seems.

Make Plans, but be flexible
We had plans: Refinish the cabinets over Thanksgiving. Make other repairs during Christmas. Move out and finish repairs in January. Then teach a finance class and prepare for a Mexico Mission trip. We knew it was a tight timeline, and now it's impossible. As a result, of my injury we now won't move out until after March. I won't lie: It's frustrating, but I'm working on being flexible and creating new plans to guide us. The act of creating plans isn't bad. As a matter of fact, I highly encourage it since it serves as a road map. However, it's also important to remain flexible, realize plans do change, and be OK with it. I'm still working on the "be OK with it" part.

Jessi is awesome
Not only did she tie my shoes, cut my food, and do all sorts of other daily tasks for me. BUT she also continued working on the cabinets while I sat on the couch watching James Bond movies! The entire time she kept a positive attitude. She would even build me up because I felt like a total loser for getting hurt. I am blessed beyond belief!

I am mortal
I turned 29 in October. It wasn't that big of a deal. I don't feel older, and most importantly all my annual medical tests indicate I'm actually healthier than last year. One can't help but feel immortal when his vital signs actually improve!

But now...
Staring at a scar I earned in less than a second...
Wondering if I'll ever get my full hand strength back...
I know I'm going to die.

I know that I'm inside a fragile body, and that I'm not really immortal. More importantly, I FEEL like I'm not immortal. You know how they say young people feel immortal? I fully acknowledge I was in that camp. I was proud to be in that camp. And now I'm no longer in that camp. It's horrible.

I'm sure that eventually my hand will fully heal, and I'll slowly forget about my mortality, but I hope I don't. I hope I remember that I am fragile, that I need to be safe, and I also need to make the most of each day, with no short-cuts, so that I have no regrets when my final day comes.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

I Got Into A Fight With A Power Tool

I'm back!

Well... Kind of...

Warning: if you're slightly squeamish, close this now.

Over the Thanksgiving break Jessi & I decided to refinish our cabinets. Progress was going well. Then, our sander started acting weird. I took the machine apart and figured out the problem: the main bearing had worn out (this is the part that allows the sanding pad to spin freely). As a result the screw holding everything together had wiggled loose. This caused, not too surprisingly, the machine to (1) make a weird sound, (2) wobble uncontrollably and (3) soon stop working.

I figured out a way to stick the screw in, and keep it really tight. Unfortunately, the side effect was the pad no long spun freely - instead it spun at the same speed as the motor (aka. really fast!). Of course, the other side effect was it really took the paint off. What was taking a hour to do, suddenly only took 10 minutes.

I used the modified sander for a while and completely finished the first pass on the inside. Then I moved on to get the doors. At this point, we were ahead of schedule, usually a fantasy when it comes to projects.

And then I slipped up.

At 4:15pm, I used my right hand to rotate one of the doors while still sanding with the other hand. I lost control of the sander and in flash the sander bit my right hand. I dropped the sander, and tore off my glove. I instantly knew it wasn't good. I then realized the sander was still spinning like crazy on the ground. I managed to turn it off while not further hurting myself. Then headed indoors to get help from Jessi.

Since she's a teacher, she's a trained first responder. It still didn't stop her from slightly freaking out when I surprised her with a bloody hand. :)

We went to the doctor's office and they cleaned out the wound. I guess there was a ton of dirt, rock, and dried paint in there. I could also see my tendon moving around when I wiggled my finger. The one thing I did right was wear gloves. Had I not done that, it would have hit my tendon and I would put me into surgery with a much longer recovery period.

Enough writing. Onto the pictures.

While driving to the doctor's office. See the dirt?

 Washing it. The danger is that the wound is right next to a joint. If it's not cleaned out, it could cause major problems.

Here it is. It's not huge, but pretty deep, and in a bad place.

Thanks Doc! There are 4 other stitches inside that's connecting the muscle together.

Healing up

Looking better, but still really swollen.

Top 4 stitches are out. Now the bottom 4 stitches will disintegrate in a few weeks.

I took this today. There's still a ways to go, but at least I can do computer work again.

So, I've gained enough strength that I can type again. But, I still can't make a fist or grab objects. Plus, at the end of the day my whole right hand is sore. It'll probably be until the start of 2013 until I have full use of my hand back.